Women and girl's football on the rise, according to FA

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The FA's Kelly Simmons says it is important to use International Women's Day to talk about the massive rise in the number of women and girls playing football

There has been a "massive shift" in the number of women and girls playing football in recent years, according to the Football Association.

The FA says 1.7m females aged five and overtake part every month and the number is continuing to rise.

Speaking on the eve of International Women's Day at a training session for girls at Wembley, FA participation and development director Kelly Simmons told Sky Sports News it was a good chance to talk about the popularity of women's football.

"I think it is important to show the progress that we've made," she said. "The women's game has made huge progress.

"I think it also really important to use the opportunity to talk about the challenges that we've still got to fix as well as to talk about the huge change in opportunities there have been for girls and women to play the game."

Kelly was pressed on what had been the greatest change in women's football over the last decade.

Fran Kirby with members of Bracknell Town's girls only football programme
Image: Progress has been made for girls playing football, says Simmons

"I think it is more girls and women playing," she added. "I think that has been the big change in the game and the professional development of the women's game."

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"We've got a partnership between the FA and Lidl which has provided 3m opportunities for children to play football and what we've seen is that nearly half of the children coming on these courses are now girls. That is a massive change.

"If you go back 10 years you would probably have seen one or two girls at best playing football.

"Now 1.7 million women and girls, thanks to programmes like this, are playing football in this country and that is a massive shift".

Kelly also believes that progress has made in addressing gender equality in the game but she says there is still a long, long way to go.

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