The head of women’s football at the FA admits it will be a “failure” if its new ‘Inspiring Positive Change’ initiative doesn’t increase diversity and representation in the England set-up in the next four years.
Baroness Campbell, director of the women’s game at The FA, has launched a new “bold and ambitious” set of objectives aimed at boosting the number of girls and women playing football at all levels, as well as setting targets for the national team.
“If in four years time we still don’t have diversity in the England pathway and if we don’t have diversity in our coaching workforce we will have failed and that’s not acceptable”, she told Sky Sports News.
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“The FA is taking this really seriously, this whole issue of driving out attitudes that we’ve seen in the past make people feel both unwelcome and uneasy about being part of our game.
“We have to get rid of discrimination and we really have to make this a game that everyone wants to play and feel comfortable when they’re there.”
Campbell admits the women’s game has struggled to get women and girls from various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds included in the game, something she hopes this new range of policies will address.
“I don’t think we’ve excluded anybody we just haven’t had the resource and reach to include people and I think now we’re going to have over the next four years the resource and the energy, and I think the ability to include anyone who wishes to be included,” she added.
The FA’s plans include getting at least 90 per cent of primary school-aged girls equal access to football at school and in clubs, as well as a separate scheme aimed to encourage teenagers to stay in the game.
There are also schemes to boost the number of female coaches, referees and team leaders.
England’s national team has also been set an ambitious target, to win the 2023 World Cup and/or the European Championship on home soil the year before.
Campbell said: “I’m a great believer of setting an ambition. We have a really clear blueprint and plan about what we’re going to do, we’ve spent a number of years studying what we believe it will take to win.
“We’ve looked at the best in the world we’ve looked at the trends. We feel that it’s a rightful ambition and that we should put it out there and we should be measured by it.”
England Women set World Cup victory target
England Women have been set the target of winning the World Cup or Euros by 2024 after the FA launched an eight-point plan called 'Inspiring Positive Change'.
The FA has sent experts to study systems in the U.S., Japan, Netherlands, France, Germany and Spain to create a new national team set-up from players involved in the U15s up to the senior squad.
New head coach Sarina Wiegman, who coached the Netherlands to the European Championship in 2017 and the World Cup final last year, takes over after the Olympics in 2021.
“You’ll probably find me put onto a boat pushed slowly out into the Atlantic!” joked Campbell when asked what will happen if England fail to win either of the next two tournaments.
The FA's new four-year strategy pledges to create a sustainable future for women’s and girls’ football in England.
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“No one can guarantee gold medals or winning positions but you have to set out with that ambition, you have to believe that’s possible, you have to make the plan that means that’s possible. You have to put the right people in the right place.
“We’ve got the players. We’ve got a lot of talented players and we’ve got a lot of young new talented players coming through. There is no reason why we shouldn’t have that ambition, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t achieve that ambition.”
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