Middlesex FA are delighted to have Sian Osmond in the post of Women’s Recreational Football Officer, a role in which she is working towards providing a lasting legacy off the back of the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament this summer. We sat down with her to discuss the work she does.
What is your Role Here at Middlesex FA?
My Job role is Women’s Recreational Football Officer. This post is a role that has been spread to 7 areas across the 9 host cities for the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament. Here at Middlesex, we are responsible for London as a host city and the work behind the legacy project that has been inspired by the competition.
My role is focused on developing the opportunities available to women aged 16+ to participate in football or football-based activity. We particularly are looking to provide opportunities to women that have never been engaged in the game before or are returning to it. Through this we hope to create a legacy and blueprint for how to replicate successful female engagement within football and continue the growth of the women’s recreational game.
What Do You Enjoy Most About Working For Middlesex FA And Your Job In Particular?
I have found this role really rewarding as through this funding, we have been able to engage with women in creative and non-traditional routes. This has meant we have been able to generate some interesting partnerships and bring football to historically underrepresented groups as well as provide several different ways of accessing the game including Soccercise, walking football as well as small, sided games.
How can people get involved with the legacy project moving forward?
We are still looking for clubs and organisations that are interested in help develop the women’s game. Those clubs and organisations that are based in Brent, Ealing and Hounslow we have funding and support available still to help get your own bespoke session up and running! As we would love to continue to expand the work and reach of e legacy project!
Please use the link below to register your interest in getting involved
What Are You Hoping To Achieve Next In Your Role?
I am hoping to continue to develop the number of successful and sustainable women’s recreational football project across the entire county. The aim is to have a suitable offer for any women to feel comfortable in engaging with the game no matter their background, age or experience!
Middlesex FA collaborate with the Afghan & Central Asian Association to provide new opportunities to their community as part of the UEFA Women’s EURO Legacy Plans
“We love the idea of some of our players reaching their early 20s and wanting to pass on their football passion and knowledge to a younger generation of Muslim girls within the club”
The Afghan & Central Asian Association (ACAA) is a community organisation based in Hounslow, working with Afghan and Central Asians living within the UK. ACAA provide support their service users with all of their settlement needs including, English language classes, Employment support, Youth services and social/sporting events.
Middlesex FA have teamed up with ACAA in the build up to the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament this summer as part of our Legacy programme to provide new opportunities to their service users. We caught up with Hannah Finlayson the Girls Football Project Coordinator for ACAA to discuss the progress of their project
Tell us a little bit about your women and girl’s programme
“In May 2021, we set up Abresham FC- a girls football club specifically for Afghan and Muslim girls from refugee or recent migrant backgrounds. Originally, we were set up for girls aged 8 to 16, but in October last year, we expanded the programme to include a 16+ training session. Across the club, we have around 40 girls attending three training sessions a week.
Our aim of Abresham FC is to improve the physical and mental well-being of individuals within this minority group by using football as a way to achieve this. Learning the importance of exercise has never been more significant, particularly after the multiple lockdowns due to COVID-19 and after the emotional trauma of the crisis in Afghanistan in August 2021. We want to provide our girls with a chance to learn a new sport, to get active, and to socialise with other girls from similar backgrounds to create a real sense of community and belonging. Through our training sessions, the girls can destress and enjoy themselves in an environment where they feel comfortable.”
How is this session providing historically underrepresented women easy access to football?
“To ensure our football club is as accessible as possible to this community, we aim to create a culturally sensitive environment through a number of different ways. We provide all kit and equipment for the girls, which includes the option to have a Nike sports hijab free of charge for those who wish to wear one.
We also have created a female only environment- which includes a female club coordinator, female outreach officer, a qualified female head coach, and a team of female volunteers. Many of these also can speak both Farsi and English, which helps with communication.
Currently, we do not charge any money for membership, which allows those from low-income backgrounds to feel included.
This week, to celebrate International Women’s Day, we are doing a photoshoot with a professional photographer. Our message behind the images taken is that anyone can play football, no matter who you are or where you come from. This is a message we aim to portray through our club, and so this photoshoot will be incredibly significant in capturing the essence of us as a group.
It is incredibly important to us to adapt the way we run our club to suit the needs of our members, and we try at every possible chance to make it as accessible as possible.”
Alongside the football activities you are providing what other opportunities have been generated for those women and girls engaging in your project?
“We also offer the opportunity for girls to take coaching courses so they can become qualified coaches. We love the idea of some of our players reaching their early 20s and wanting to pass on their football passion and knowledge to a younger generation of Muslim girls within the club. By becoming football coaches, the leadership skills we wish to develop through playing football becomes solidified and the girls feel even more empowered.
We have also organised day trips to Wembley Stadium and Brentford FC to watch professional football matches (both men and women’s matches). For those who want to pursue football, it’s so amazing for them to see that it is possible to create a future from this sport.”
What are your ambitions for your project in the future?
“We would love to grow this programme into a fully functioning, self-sustaining football club that has a great community spirit and empowers these girls. To do this, we want to increase our squad sizes enough so we can then split the girls into their age groups. From there, we wish to join a league so the girls can get regular match practice against other teams and the club can go from strength to strength.
We want to have as many girls as possible benefitting from the opportunities this club offers, as the progress we have made so far tells us that this football club has every potential to achieve this.”
ACAA is always welcoming new women and girls to join their sessions and club. For more information on how you could get involved, please email email@example.com
Middlesex FA collaborate with the Kinja FC to provide new opportunities to their Mums as part of the UEFA Women’s EURO Legacy Plans
“Seeing their children fall in love with the game and have so much fun staying active is a huge inspiration for parents to get involved”
Kinja FC is a Grassroots team based across Brent and Harrow, with several age groups and programmes for women and girls. They have successfully created a full pathway at their club and have now joined our UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Legacy project to engage their parents in the beautiful game!
We caught up with Harry Sherman Kinja’s Vice Captain to discuss their engagement with the legacy and how they have engaged their mums and female careers in football.
Tell us a little bit about your women and girl’s programme
“At Kinja FC we have a fantastic full pathway for women and girls within football, from the youngest age groups in our Wildcats programme, into our competitive youth teams in the U9 age group, through to U18 Girls, then into our Women's JUST PLAY recreational sessions.
For women who want a more competitive experience within football, we also have a sister club - Camden Town Ladies - That has three competitive teams that play weekly against other sides.”
Thanks to the wildcats programme you are providing girls with their first taste of football, how important is it that you have now been able to provide parents with the opportunity to return to football or have their first taste in football
“It's vital for parents to be offered the opportunity to either return to playing football or engage in football for the first time. Seeing their children fall in love with the game and have so much fun staying active is a huge inspiration for parents to get involved and get active in the game as well. Additionally, they can become wonderful role models, and develop a wonderful relationship with their children, through a shared passion of playing football.”
What successes have you gained from running sessions that have engaged parents in activity too?
“We have run the sessions since November, and have created a really supportive, encouraging group of people who just enjoy getting together each week to have fun and get fit through playing football. They're supporting each other through their successes outside of football, and are providing comfort through the tough times. They have created a wonderful group of friends through these sessions, which has been a joy to be a part of.”
What advice would you give to other clubs trying to replicate your delivery model to engage parents in their own session?
“The best advice we could give is to just give it a go, and ask for feedback, and what the players enjoy most and want from the sessions. The session plans we started with, compared to how we run the sessions now are very different, and we've tailored it so that the players are getting the most from the sessions, and enjoying them every week. Have fun with it, and have fun in the sessions, and they will have a lot of fun too.”