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To celebrate International Women’s Day, we are focusing on some of the initiatives run by Albion in the Community (AITC) that are aimed at increasing participation among women and girls.

Brighton & Hove Albion’s official charity has a growing number of regular football sessions aimed at local women and girls. For example, AITC runs football development centres for girls in Brighton, Crawley, Chichester, Eastbourne, Worthing and Uckfield. These provide promising local players with...

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Albion in the Community aiming to increase participation among women and girls

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To celebrate International Women’s Day, we are focusing on some of the initiatives run by Albion in the Community (AITC) that are aimed at increasing participation among women and girls.

Brighton & Hove Albion’s official charity has a growing number of regular football sessions aimed at local women and girls. For example, AITC runs football development centres for girls in Brighton, Crawley, Chichester, Eastbourne, Worthing and Uckfield. These provide promising local players with additional expert coaching and attendance has grown steadily throughout the season.

It also recently launched two Saturday morning clubs for girls in Brighton and Hove. These are aimed at girls of all abilities and cost just £1 per session to attend. There are also girls-only Brighton & Hove Albion Soccer Schools that take place during the school holidays; the next is scheduled for 3 April at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre in Lancing.

Earlier this year AITC started a fortnightly football session for women and girls who have a disability, which also takes place at the training ground, while a number of young female players with a disability continue to take part in the charity’s inclusive clubs, its disability-specific sessions and its elite sessions for people with a disability.

The Community Pitch at the club’s training ground, which is operated by AITC and used by a wide range of local clubs and community groups, hosted 555 hours of sessions during 2017 that were specifically aimed at women and girls – an increase of 16% from the previous year.

This figure includes a number of free football taster days for girls that are run by AITC and supported by American Express and take place regularly throughout the year. These provide an introduction to football and are attended by upwards of 50 girls each time.

As part of the national Premier League Kicks programme AITC also runs a regular free girls-only football session for young people living in East Brighton. There is also a weekly free football session for women looking to try football for the first time, stay active or return to the game.

The charity also benefits from keen support from players from within Brighton & Hove Albion’s WSL 2 squad; Hope Powell’s players regularly attending AITC’s sessions in the community and earlier this season Laura Rafferty became one of three official AITC ambassadors, alongside Liam Rosenior and Jadey Yesilada, who works for AITC and plays for Brighton & Hove Albion Powerchair FC.

Off the pitch, AITC also runs a number of other programmes aimed at women and girls. A recent conference at the Amex focused on the opportunities available for women to pursue careers within the science, technology, engineering, or maths (STEM) sectors and was attended by almost 200 students from local schools.

That conference was building on the on-going success of Code Girls – an American Express supported programme that looks to encourage local girls to choose STEM subjects at GCSE level and beyond.

The charity’s health team has also run a number of events looking to raise awareness of a range of different cancers. More than 600 people visited an information stand in the centre of Brighton to learn about the early signs and symptoms of breast cancer, while another recent event saw AITC’s Speak Up Against Cancer team talk to 50 women about the importance of cervical screening.

For more information on any of the above programmes, email: info@albioninthecommunity.org.uk or visit: www.albioninthecommunity.org.uk.