Young girls across Renfrewshire have discovered a love of football all thanks to a their favourite Disney heroes.
The group of 30 girls – all aged between five and eight – have been lacing up their football boots to play the beautiful game at St Mirren for the last ten weeks as part of the groundbreaking Disney Playmakers Programme.
The unique SFA funded programme, which is being led by the St Mirren Charitable Foundation at the club, uses Disney’s world-renowned storytelling to help encourage young girls to get into football.
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The Renfrewshire youngsters join more than 1,000 young girls across the country who have taken part in the programme which originated in Switzerland.
Coaches running the programme at the Paisley Club have been using the narrative from hit Disney movies The Incredibles 2 and Frozen 2 to inspire the youngsters to enjoy a kick-about.
Equipped with footballs, bibs and cones, the two trained coaches have been encouraging the girls to play the roles of popular characters, such as Elastigirl and Elsa and Anna, bringing the films’ action scenes to life through movement, teamwork and their imagination.
It also aims to empower the youngsters, help build their confidence and support them in building friendships.
And the project has been hailed as so successful at St Mirren that the club now plans to launch a new Girls’ Football Academy in 2022 for young girls who would like to take up the sport.
Gayle Brannigan, chief executive of the St Mirren Charitable Foundation, told the Express it has been fantastic to see young girls enjoy the sport because of the programme.
She said: “It has been such a great way to get them interested in football and you can see how much they enjoy it. The programme was launched as it has been noted through research that young girls are not taking up football and this was a way to try and engage with them from a young age and it has worked fantastically.
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“We have loved doing it and the coaches have found it a real joy using Disney to help get them excited about the sport, and it has been so successful that we are going to be launching our girls academy for primary aged girls after Christmas.”
The club has a successful women’s team which has been running since 2018 and currently competes in the Scottish Women’s Football League (SWFL) Championship South.
St Mirren currently has an Under 16s girls team too, and it is hoped the academy will help create more youth teams within the Premiership club.
Gayle added: “We have a really successful women’s team so we are looking forward to working in partnership with them to open up more opportunities for young girls who are keen to take up football.”
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