Barclays Community Football Fund

Working together to make football more inclusive to under-represented groups, including girls

After the Lionesses semi-final win in 2022’s monumental Women’s Euros campaign, Ian Wright publicly urged for the tournament to create a lasting legacy for women’s football: ‘If there’s no legacy after this, then what are we doing? Girls should be able to play [football].’

Our work with the Barclays Community Football Fund, in partnership with Sported, is bringing this legacy to life. We’re helping to develop the facilities and experience at grassroots football clubs across the country to include and welcome more young people from under-represented groups, including girls, those with special needs and/or a disability, from ethnic minority backgrounds or from the LGBTQ+ community, all for them to simply be able to play football and be more active. All projects are match-funded by our National Partners at Sport England, with two projects supported by our regional Programme Partners Sport Birmingham and Think Active. Here’s what we’ve done so far.

Cheetham Hill Sports Club, Manchester

Our work kickstarted long-term transformation at this club to help them become truly inclusive. We created stud walls to separate current changing and shower facilities to create safe, separate female and disabled facilities where there previously were none. We also created cabinets for sink bases, as well as painting and decorating the corridor area, all with the help of 16 local young people (and a couple of football stars!) earning accreditations in Carpentry and Health & Safety.

See this project kick off here
England Lionesses Nikita Parris, Ella Toone and Mary Earps, whose names adorn the mural behind them, during a visit to the club

Westbury Sports Club, Bury

19 local young people helped revitalise this grassroots sports club, where football plays a big role in the club. We helped to create privacy entrances to create female changing spaces, as well as creating a new entrance for the disabled toilet. All with a fresh lick of club colour redecoration, to instil pride in the young teams and build a sense of club community.

It is estimated 100 more girls are playing football as a result of the VIY project

reported by Westbury Sports Club

Sprowston Football Club, Norwich

We’ve transformed their current unisex changing rooms to create separate facilities for their growing female teams to use (pictured left), including adding a WC cubicle for the first time (replacing their current all urinal line-up!) We’ve also redecorated the spaces to make them more accommodating and welcoming to both males and females, creating a sense of joint pride amongst the teams and ultimately invite more to be included to play in the ‘Ability Counts’ league.

Saltley Stallions Football Club, Birmingham

Saltley Stallions FC was created to help remove the cultural and other barriers for women to play football in central Birmingham. Here we divided the changing rooms, enabled male/female toilets and created social seating areas, all to help existing, new players and their friends and families to feel included and welcome in their sporting environment. All with the help of 20 local young people, including girls and young people with refugee status here in the UK. Hear from some of them here.

Hear what this work means to the club

Bootle Bucks Inclusion FC, Liverpool

Bootle Bucks is all about engaging young people who might otherwise struggle to access playing football and sport due to disabilities, special educational needs and other barriers/challenges. In autumn 2023, we retrofitted a disused wooden cabin to create fit-for-purpose changing rooms, including reboarding damaged walls, building stud walling, seating and redecorating, to allow them to offer separate male and female changing facilities which currently don’t exist. Local England and Liverpool hero Jamie Carragher also returned to his former club and appeared live on Sky Sports News talking about the project!

Read more in the Liverpool Echo here
Jamie Carragher visits his former club following our VIY project

Saracens RFC, Coventry

After the success of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, there was a surge of interest from girls to play football at Saracens RFC. Alongside their thriving boys side, their first girls football team began just this summer, with 16 young girls turning up to the first session. A pan-disability team has now followed. We’ve renovated and redecorated the space to make it fit-for-purpose and more welcoming for girls and neurodivergent young people, including inspiring artwork and covered outdoor seating areas for spectators and young people with special needs like autism to take some time out.

Hear more on BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire