Lionesses World Cup journey helps boost women's participation
Last Updated: 05/11/19 1:45pm
The Lionesses' progress to the semi-finals of this year's Women's World Cup in France has helped boost participation across all levels of the women's game.
England Women made it to the last four for the second tournament in succession, with Phil Neville's side beaten 2-1 by the USA in Lyon, and that has helped the women's game grow in the country.
England's defeat to USA was watched by a peak domestic television audience of 11.7m and there have been record league crowds, with Saturday's game against Germany at Wembley a sell-out.
Latest figures from the FA reveal more than 2.63m women aged 16 and over in England now play football.
Since this summer's tournament, there are over 850,000 more committed participants, with the retention of 23.1 per cent of existing adult female participants now playing 11-a-side or small-sided football competitively from September.
Almost 350,000 new participants are now playing football, while the growth of 'Wildcats' centres and the newly-established FA Girls' Football School Partnerships have helped facilitate the positive trend.
The FA's Shooting Stars initiative alongside Disney, The Youth Sport Trust and The National Literacy trust was also launched this week, with the FA's The Gameplan for Growth strategy on course to achieve its target of doubling participation by 2020.
Louise Gear, the FA's head of women's development, said: "The growth we've experienced is proof of the 'see it, play it' mantra which is at the heart of our ethos to inspire participation across all age groups.
England Women sell out Wembley
England Women sell out Wembley Stadium for friendly against Germany Women
"In the Lionesses we're fortunate to have a wonderful group of role models performing at the highest level of the game, who inspire females of all ages to have the confidence to get out and give football a try; be it for fitness, competition or fun.
"What we've seen this summer is growth across the majority of adult age groups and many on the pathway from kicking a ball in the garden to playing competitive 11-a-side and small-sided football.
"The growth of the women's recreational movement driven by volunteers alongside our Charter Standard Clubs network has successfully catered for this interest, but our focus will also turn to adults who have a desire to just play for fun.
"At a junior level programmes such as Wildcats and Shooting Stars point to an exciting future but we'll continue to assess all areas of our participation pathway.