Merthyr Town FC hosted the first girls-only football festival as part of their initiative to develop the women’s game and opportunities for girls in Merthyr.
Female pupils from schools, including Caedraw, St Aloysius and Pantysgallog Primary took part in the festival at Penydarren Park, organised by the football club in association with the Welsh Football Trust and Active Merthyr.
Elliot Evans, the community development officer at Merthyr FC, said the all-day football festival showed the club’s commitment to get young girls involved with the sport.
He explained: “Sporting opportunities for girls are few and far between. This festival, which was purely designed for the girls to have fun, is part of our long term strategy to increase the chances available and to get girls playing and falling in love with the game.
“We have the fantastic new facilities at Penydarren Park and we hope to make this the hub for football in the area. Putting on events like this, as well as our turn up and play sessions for girls on Monday evenings, will hopefully help to make them feel more comfortable with the environment.
“We are currently offering free fun football sessions to all the primary schools in Merthyr and we also run a turn up and play session every Friday and a girls-only turn up and play session every Monday from 5pm to 6pm at Penydarren Park.
“Things have been going really well on the pitch for the club and it is important that the Community Project continues to support the local community off the pitch,” he added.
With the sun shining, almost 50 girls attended the football festival and the following Monday’s turn up and play session saw double the usual attendance.
Elliot said that Merthyr FC was determined to improving the future of girls’ football in the area.
He said: “It’s fantastic to get these girls playing football and it shows the club’s commitment to developing opportunities going forward.
“We will continue to host fun days, as a way of introducing girls to football, as well as starting under 14 and under 16 teams to compete in the South Wales Women’s and Girls’ League next season so that there’s a path for progress.”
Merthyr FC have worked with both Active Merthyr, a local authority initiative, and the Welsh Football Trust to create more opportunities and get girls playing football.
Jay Probert, the Senior Partnership Manager at the Welsh Football Trust, said that Merthyr FC was a positive force behind developing youth football in South Wales.
“Growing the girls’ game is one of our key objectives and we have collaborated with Merthyr Football Club to try and increase girls’ participation and involvement with clubs.
“By working with the club and local schools, we have been able to put on this successful football festival at one of the best facilities in South Wales.”
Merthyr FC have also been named as one of the two clubs that will be delivering a new initiative called Breaking the Barriers, aimed at improving the mental and physical wellbeing of people with experience of mental health problems by supporting them to engage with mainstream sporting activity.
The initiative will be delivered by the Merthyr Town FC Community Project in partnership with Time to Change Wales and the Welsh Football Trust and will be funded by Sport Wales.