GIRLS FOOTBALL onsıde| ISSUE 39 23 a number of those games against us. However, an encouraging pattern for me, and the girls, was that it was clear that the boys were not technically superior to us. As part of the requirements for The FA’s ‘Tier One’ Regional Talent Clubs, Arsenal FC provided the players with a comprehensive strength and conditioning and psychology programme to supplement the technical syllabus. A number of friendlies with Under-9s boys’ teams from the Academies of leading Premier League clubs were also set up, in order to give the girls further opportunities to put into practice the new physical and mental strength they were being armed with. One challenge we expected was the difference in facilities compared to what they were used to. Despite horror stories of water-logged pitches and mud pits, the facilities and playing surfaces at away venues were excellent. Wearing my Football Foundation hat for a brief second, it was pleasing to see that many had received a grant from us. I could see with my very own eyes that our Funding Partners’ investment was really helping to create high quality playing environments at the grassroots level. The positive attitude from opposition players, parents and coaches was also encouraging. The FA’s Respect signage and equipment on show at a number of away venues visited was not only pleasing to see, but was clearly having a tangible impact. The misogynistic comments we feared might occur never really materialised. We were provided with an incredibly friendly and welcoming environment from opposition parents, players and coaching staff. There was genuine excitement on the side lines about watching a Premier League youth team play in this league, week in week out. OUR SEASON BEGINS TO TURN! Through tailoring training sessions we were able to replicate the intensity, tempo and speed of decisions required on match days. Combined with the new fitness programme and psychological workshops for the players – and parents – this had a major effect on the girls. We did lose but I didn’t feel disheartened just keen to learn and improve the team’s style of play, we all learnt a lot from that first match.” 1 2 3 4 5 48% 10 VENUES OUT OF 21 HAVE RECEIVED FF GRANTS 6 7 8 9 10 £4,351,365 AMOUNT OF FF INVESTMENT THAT NEARLY HALF THE GRASSROOTS VENUES THAT THE GIRLS PLAYED AT HAD RECEIVED SINCE 2000. TheArsenal girls’ away fixture at Harvesters FC was played at one of many grassroots venues that had benefited from investment from the Football Foundation and its Funding Partners:the Premier League,The FA and the Government (via Sport England.)