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Tracey Crouch MP hails investment in grassroots women's football

Camden Town Women FC and the Women's Parliamentary women's team
Camden Town Women FC and the Women's Parliamentary women's team (Max Turner/Beat Media Group)

Tracey Crouch MP hailed the transformative impact of investment in women’s football at the grassroots level, as her Women’s Parliamentary football team took on Camden Town Women to celebrate International Women’s Day.

Crouch, who is captain of the team founded in 2017, brought her side to Waterloo to take on seventh-tier Camden Town, as part of an event organised by their sponsors Pitching In.

All players took part in a training session by first team manager Harry Sherman before going head-to-head in a friendly match.

And Crouch took the opportunity to laud the impact of crucial investment in the lower levels of the women’s game.

“This morning was an opportunity to celebrate International Women’s Day with the Parliamentary Women’s Football Team and Camden Town thanks to Pitching In,” she said.

“Even though we have seen the massive success of the Lionesses, there are still many women and girls out there who don’t have access to football.

“One of the things we are very committed to in the Women’s Parliamentary Football Team is to show that anyone can play football, regardless of their age, ability, or previous experience and this was yet another opportunity to showcase women’s football to a wider world.

“Since I was a kid, when I was banned from playing girls’ football, we have seen huge progress, but the truth is that you do need to continue to invest in grassroots football and the FA have done a great job with that.

“But it is actually much more about acceptance than anything, there are lots of people out there who still don’t think it’s appropriate for girls to play football. It is trying to break that mindset.

“In terms of accessibility, there is an unwelcome truth that many girls, particularly in schools, don’t have access to football. We need to make sure that people are aware that it’s a great sport to be involved with, it’s a wonderful team sport, it’s great for physical and mental health but then also to provide that accessibility.

“Pitching In have done a fantastic job in supporting women’s football, they have been pioneers in many of the networks that we now see. It shouldn’t just fall on Pitching In’s shoulders to do that, the more people we get involved the better.”

Tracey Crouch MP
Tracey Crouch MP (Max Turner/Beat Media Group)

Camden Town have been sponsored by Pitching In for the past two seasons, with the investment key in supporting their ambitions of scaling the pyramid and expanding their offering to as many women and girls as possible.

And Entain Groups Corporate Affairs Director Grainne Hurst underlined the key reasons for their continued funding of grassroots women’s sport.

She said: “Women’s sport and women’s football has been growing rapidly over the years and what Entain are really invested in is helping the grassroots; raising awareness amongst young girls and women of the fun, importance, and health benefits of getting involved in sport.

“Entain, through Pitching In, has invested in 18 community initiatives for women’s sport, totalling over £65,000 with the aim of raising awareness among girls, women, and community clubs that it is a really fun way to enjoy the benefits that football can bring.

“We need the grassroots clubs and communities to engage and inspire the next generation of female athletes. If we don’t have a pipeline coming up, we are not going to have the world class female athletes that we are all so proud of.”

That investment is being felt first hand by the players of Camden Town, with first team player Maxine Borden emphasising the difference she has felt thanks to the rapid growth of the game in recent years.

“It is a crazy difference. I started playing when I was nine and the difference between then and now, the way the women’s game is viewed, the way it is funded, is incredible,” she said.

“As a player who has grown up through those stages, it is really lovely to see. I didn’t think I would necessarily continue playing when I had a job, but here I am playing for Camden.

“The investment comes across through where we get to play our games. We have really great playing grounds and training grounds; it makes us feel very supported. Even really small things like getting a training kit and not having to pay to play, that makes a big difference. A lot of the players in our league are doing it on the side, but the support that we get makes it much more accessible.

“Going forward it is about expanding that to more teams and all teams growing together.”