Barclays pledges to help make football available "to all schoolgirls" within five years
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Barclays pledges to help make football available "to all schoolgirls" within five years

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Banking giant Barclays has pledged to support the growth of women's football by helping to make the sport available to all schoolgirls in England by 2024.

The bank – which is currently the headline sponsor of the FA Women’s Super League – has pledged to invest in The FA Girls’ Football School Partnerships, a scheme that aims to use 100 hubs around the country to enable schools to put girls’ football on the curriculum.

The pledge coincided with the publication of a survey carried out by Yougov, which showed that 75 per cent of female adults were denied access to football as children.

According to Tom Corbett, Barclays global head of sponsorship, the recent surge in interest in women's football – driven partly by the FIFA Women's World Cup held in France earlier this year – means that the time is right to ensure the sport has healthy grassroots.

“It’s an exciting time to be a part of football," Corbett said.

"We expect the new season of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League to generate record-breaking attendance after a massively popular World Cup this summer.

"Yet, it is clear that this is the beginning and with the vast majority of girls still not having access to football we are determined to work alongside The FA to give all girls the same access in schools as boys by 2024.

"We have now started that process by supporting The FA Girls’ Football School Partnership."

Barclays involvement in the school partnership scheme is expected to result in 6,000 schools across the country being able to use the 100 hubs to increase opportunities for girls to play football.

Former England Women's team captain and Barclays ambassador Kelly Smith added: “A few years ago, men’s football defined the women’s game, but not now.

"The women’s game stands on its own, and I think that is down to the last couple of tournaments and the work that brands like Barclays have done to support it.

"Making it accessible for everyone has been huge, and the women’s game should be incredibly proud of what it has achieved. That being said, there’s still room to evolve and develop, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.”

The increase in interest in the sport is partly down to the success of the England women’s football team – managed by former Everton and England defender Phil Neville.

The team reached the semi-final at this year's World Cup, matching the success of the men’s side who made it to the semi-final of the 2018 Men’s FIFA World Cup in Russia.

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