Hugely popular across Middlesex, Weetabix Wildcats is safe, fun and friendly football for girls aged 5-11, delivered by The FA qualified coaches and volunteers.
It’s non-competitive football for girls who want to give it a go for the very first time or want to play with other girls their own age. Most importantly, Weetabix Wildcats is all about having loads of fun and meeting new amazing friends.
Here, we catch up with Jenny Dawuda, the Girls Football Lead at Acton Ealing Whistlers Youth FC to get a behind-the-scenes look at their Weetabix Wildcats sessions, and hear about the impact it's had so far on the young girls taking part...
How did you hear about Weetabix Wildcats?
We heard about the FA’s Wildcats initiative through FA promotional emails back in 2018/19.
Why did your club decide to apply?
We were keen to provide more opportunities for girls to play football at the club and parents were encouraging us to do so. The Wildcats initiative seemed an excellent way to start to offer girls-only football here because of the FA’s package of training, support, marketing and funding.
How did you find the application process?
It was straightforward once we’d got to grips with the FA application platform and gathered all the information required to make the application.
What did you think to the training?
We applied to become a Wildcats centre at the start of 2019, so our training was in-person, and we were able to connect with other new Wildcats providers there. The training sessions were good. The trainers were enthusiastic and passionate about building girls’ football across the county. They helped attendees understand some of the differences in learning styles between boys and girls football our coaches might need to consider. There was also good information provided on building a female-friendly environment and on ways to encourage girls to attend sessions.
How have your sessions gone since you started delivering and what impact are they having at your club?
We are now in our 4th year of running Wildcats sessions and so pleased we applied for the programme. Wildcats has really helped grow and firmly establish girls only football at our club. We’re now offering a range of opportunities to girls to participate - from ages 5 to 18. We have formed 5 league teams and extended the number of training sessions we put on for all our female players. We have also encouraged girls who have graduated from Wildcats to take on referee training and EE Playmaker. Even with this broadening of our offering, it is still important to us to provide opportunities for beginners to try out football for the first time.
Would you encourage other clubs to apply for Wildcats and what reasons would you give for them to do so?
Yes! It’s a great way to get girls football started at a club with the benefit of good CFA support and access to training and marketing resources.
Thanks to the Lionesses there’s increasing demand out there to play but many girls are beginners and are still unlikely to play football at school (although this is starting to change). Wildcats creates an environment for beginners to try out football in a fun and friendly environment and build confidence. It’s so rewarding to be able to provide this space for girls and see them enjoying the beautiful game with new friends. They always leave our sessions happy and with smiles on their faces.
To find out more about Acton Ealing Whistlers Youth FC and get in touch about their Weetabix Wildcats session, visit the club's website here
For more information on the Weetabix Wildcats programme, please click here