The top flight of English football is set for a significant boost over the next three years thanks to a joint commitment by the BBC and Sky Sports, with up to 18 matches being shown live on free-to-air channels – rather than via the Red Button or on iPlayer. The deal is believed to be worth over £7million a year to the game.
Lucy Even, the JFA’s community coach for girls, believes this level of recognition for the game’s elite will eventually lead to significant improvements further down the ladder.
‘If I look at my own experience of growing up as a female player, it was always just the male game on TV,’ she said. ‘That was all I ever knew but now we’re going to have Super League games live on the BBC and I think it will make a big difference for young girls. It will inspire the younger generation to get involved.
‘If it’s not being advertised on TV you’re not going to get more girls involved, so this is a really big step and it’s only going to benefit the whole female game. We have been part of the FA’s national strategy to increase women’s and girls’ football and now we will really start pushing over the next three years.’
Even added: ‘We have the Wildcats programme, which is an initiative to get girls aged 5-11 introduced to football and we’ll be looking to get new female coaches in to provide more Wildcats centres in the Island, whether it’s in primary schools or at local football clubs. We already have three clubs providing football for young girls – GS United, Jersey Wanderers and Rozel – and as a county FA we need to ensure we continue supporting them through CPD courses for coaches, giving them the resources to provide opportunities.’
And in Guernsey’s Maya Le Tissier there is a prime example of what can be achieved via the Channel Islands. The 18-year-old is now a regular for Super League outfit Brighton & Hove Albion and was this week named by Goal.com as one of the best young female players in the world for 2021.
‘We always talk to the girls about Maya, because she’s a really good role model,’ Even explained. ‘She’s playing at the highest level in the UK and although she’s not from Jersey it’s close enough for us to say it’s something our girls can aspire to. And we do work really closely with Guernsey because as small islands we’re in similar situations, with a small pool of girls to choose from. Maya is definitely someone to be looking out for ... it’s amazing, what she’s doing.’
Alongside the BBC’s coverage, up to 44 Super League games per season will be shown on Sky Sports.