Girls only Swansea City AFC Foundation sessions provide special matchday experience
With the fantastic growth in female participation in football in Wales, Swansea City AFC Foundation has been able to celebrate the impact of its delivery of girls only sessions by providing a unique matchday experience for an aspiring young footballer.
Leila Einon has been attending the Foundation’s ongoing sessions – delivered in partnership with the Football Association of Wales Trust - in Pembroke since February, having originally taken an interest in football from seeing boys playing at her school.
The sessions are being delivered at a moment of great growth in the women’s game on the back of England winning Euro 2022 in the summer, Wales reaching a World Cup play-off and expecting a record crowd when facing Bosnia later this week, and Swansea City’s own Ladies team playing at the Swansea.com Stadium for the first time just last month.
The partnership with the FAW aims to encourage young females to participate in football through fun sessions open to all abilities, running sessions in Newtown, Aberystwyth, Carmarthen, Pembroke, Elba, Morriston and Llanelli.
If you are interested in registering for these sessions, sign up HERE.
Having never played the game before, Leila had felt too nervous to get involved. However, the girls only sessions offered Leila the opportunity to try football for free, while developing her skills and growing in confidence both on and off the field.
Leila has since started playing for her local club in addition to attending the weekly sessions with the Foundation.
Kaya Blackmore, Swansea City AFC Foundation’s girls coach, said: “Leila has been coming to our FAW-funded girls-only sessions since February.
"When she first came, she was very shy but as soon as she started kicking the ball with the girls she felt comfortable, and we really started to see her confidence growing.
“She has come on leaps and bounds since attending the sessions, she went from not playing football at all, to playing for Camrose Football Club, and that’s such a great achievement for her.
“Just to see her grow and develop gives us a great feeling of achievement for helping these girls become what they want to become."
Cath Einon, Leila’s Mum, added: “She took an interest in football from watching the boys play in school, but I think she was a bit nervous about getting involved.
“One of the things that attracted us to this initially was that it was free to come and just have a go and that it was girls only.
“Because of her shyness, Leila was a bit reluctant at first - we told her to just try it and that she didn't have to go back if she didn’t enjoy it, but she absolutely loved it.
“She got more and more into it and then we found out that there were county trials. She was lucky enough to be picked to play for the county as well, which was an amazing shock because she hadn’t even played for a team before [joining the Foundation's girls only sessions].”
To celebrate the progress of the session, Leila, along with her fellow participants from Pembroke, had the opportunity to be flag bearers for Swansea City’s recent game against Hull City.
Stacey John-Davis – one of the goalscorers when the Swans Ladies beat Cardiff Met at the Swansea.com Stadium - also helped the Foundation to celebrate Leila’s progress, presenting the aspiring footballer with a Swansea City shirt.
John-Davis was glad to see that young girls in the local community have the opportunity to take part in these sessions and wished she had similar opportunities growing up.
“These sessions are massive, it’s great to see that there are so many young girls involved in the game in general and even from such a young age,” said John-Davis.
“Just to be around the environment of the girls and getting that togetherness and team bonding, I think that would have been great for me.”