Five years ago, if you asked a random stranger if they had ever heard of anyone playing for England’s women’s national team, they’d probably laugh. Women footballers weren’t as prominent then, and barely anyone noticed them.
Today, that same scenario would play out much differently. Thanks to the recent achievements of the women’s national team, they now enjoy wider recognition with the public. To continue their momentum and guarantee future success, the EFL Trust launched the Talent Inclusion Programme.
Join us as we examine what the Talent Inclusion Programme means for advancing women’s football in England. And in the meantime, why not have a look at the EFL Championship games? The Lionesses may not be playing at the moment, but that doesn’t mean you should miss out on football betting. After all, it’s the best way to make the matches more interesting and more exciting!
What is the Talent Inclusion Programme?
Established in 2022, the EFL’s Talent Inclusion Programme is designed to find promising young female players and help them develop their talents. After the Lionesses’ success in the 2022 UEFA Women’s Euro Cup, the EFL realised they needed to nurture local talent across all backgrounds. To do that, they required the help of locally-established football clubs for a more regional reach.
In the programme, participating clubs scout and recruit promising young girls. They give these promising young players the opportunity and direction to improve their talents, regardless of their socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds. If they prove to be a genuinely talented player, the club refers them to FA Women’s England Talent Pathway for further development.
Why was the Talent Inclusion Programme Started?
Following the success of the England Women’s National Team in the 2022 UEFA Euros, it became essential to keep this momentum going. The EFL realised that the only way to do that was to scout and recruit promising young players, regardless of their backgrounds. This is an important aspect, especially considering the backgrounds of some national squad players.
As the programme progressed, it became clear that plenty of talented young girls face massive financial obstacles when trying to play football. As a result, they abandon their footballing dreams, resulting in a loss for them and the national team. The Talent Inclusion Programme aims to remove that obstacle and allow young girls to prove themselves.
How is the Talent Inclusion Programme Supposed to Help Young Players?
Traditionally, prospective young players can only play for a local club if they can afford the associated costs⎯boots, sub fees, etc. Girls from poorer backgrounds struggle to overcome this obstacle, preventing them from participating and playing.
EFL’s Talent Inclusion Programme is supposed to help young girls play, regardless of whether they can afford it. Participating clubs receive monetary grants from EFL to hold talent ID days, where they identify potential recruits. Once recruited, they give support and direction to players so they can improve themselves.
Depending on the girls’ performance and level of improvement, they could be monitored as potential recruits for national squads. They could also be referred to the Talent Pathway or called to join the youth national squads.
Has the Talent Inclusion Programme Been Successful?
So far, the Talent Inclusion Programme has been quite successful in attracting young talent across various backgrounds. Fifty-four EFL Clubs have participated in the programme so far, with more still to join.
Additionally, the clubs have collectively made 123 referrals so far, and one of those referrals resulted in a call-up for the England Women’s U-15 squad. Of the participating players, 19 per cent are being monitored as emerging talents, and two are already training in national camps.
Perhaps the best statistic out of all the results is the players’ backgrounds. Thirty-four per cent of referred players are from low-income families, while sixteen per cent are from ethnically diverse backgrounds. These numbers prove that with the removal of barriers, more talent is becoming available for the national squad.
What is the Outlook for the Talent Inclusion Programme?
EFL’s Talent Inclusion Programme looks poised to expand even further, with more clubs set to join. The numbers are already promising, and they’re only going to increase as more and more girls get the opportunity to join.
Although it may take years before the England Women’s team has a strong crop of promising players to choose from, they’re well on their way to developing local talent. With continued support and investment, the Talent Inclusion Programme will help encourage more girls to play and find their talent.
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