A GROUP of Bradford schools have started a new partnership with the Football Association to get more girls playing the beautiful game.

The Tauheedul Education Trust , which runs two secondary school in the city and three primary schools, has become the first academy trust to become an FA Girls’ Area Hub.

It means the schools have joined a network of organisations that support and deliver girls’ football across England to change perceptions and social barriers to participation in the game, and to create an inclusive and engaging programme of activities.

The Bradford schools under the Tauheedul umbrella are Laisterdyke Leadership Academy, Tong Leadership Academy and primaries Thornbury Academy, High Crags Academy and Barkerend Academy.

The partnership has now officially kicked off, and girls at Laisterdyke marked the partnership with a number of activities during Girls Football Week earlier this month.

Events included a kick-ups challenge and an inter-school tournament.

Pupils from Year 7 up to Year 11 all had the chance to take part in a day of football matches, before battling against one another to notch up the most kick-ups.

Tara Walker, a PE teacher at Laisterdyke Leadership Academy, said: “Our girls embraced the opportunity to get out onto the football field during Girls’ Football Week, with many girls who wouldn’t normally participate in after school clubs attending the activities.

"The number of girls enjoying playing football at Laisterdyke has given me a massive boost and I am entering five year group football teams into a local tournament.

“Through the FA’s programme, over the coming months pupils will have the chance to get involved in roles off the pitch to help manage and lead our school football teams.”

Pupil Qurra Kazmi said: “Having the opportunity to play football at lunchtime and after school has helped me to develop my skills further. It’s also helpful to work with younger pupils as a sports ambassador promoting my love of football and encouraging girls to participate more.”

Kate Hebden, the Trust’s Head of Pupil Leadership Specialism, commented: “As the first multi-academy trust to become an FA Girls’ Area Hub, Tauheedul Education Trust schools will have access to programmes developed by the FA to encourage more girls to get involved in the beautiful game, and not only as players.

“We aim to empower our female pupils to get involved in the sport both on and off the pitch, developing leadership skills and character traits that will stay with them for life. The FA’s aim through the Girls’ Area Hub programme is also to inspire more young women to consider careers in football.

“Staff in the schools taking part in the programme will also have access to FA accredited CPD courses leading to qualifications in sports coaching. The Trust will also be in a position to help the FA develop best practice for extending the programme.”

The FA Girls’ Area Hub programme, delivered in partnership with the Youth Sport Trust, takes learning opportunities through football way beyond the pitch.

The primary school programme, Active Literacy, aims to engage girls aged five to seven years in creative play and boost their literacy skills through football themed activities.

In secondary schools, the Game of Our Own programme empowers girls in Years 7 to 9 to set up and run their own football club as an after school activity. Aside from the players, many leadership roles are available to pupils including coach and event manager. Funding is also available to support pupils in the running of their clubs. In addition, teachers deliver character development sessions through their core curriculum PE that help pupils’ gain vital life skills such as motivating others, communication, empathy and leadership.