Helping to Motivate and Inspire

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The Chelsea Foundation hosted our first Young Women in Sport conference event at Stamford Bridge this week. It was titled ‘Finding Your Voice in the Game’ and was run in association with the Professional Footballers Association (PFA).

The event was attended by more than 70 young women and girls with the aim to motivate and inspire young women who want to be involved in the sport via a series of workshops and presentations.

Chelsea are committed to supporting women in sport with our Ladies first team the current FA Women’s Super League and FA Women’s Cup holders.  The club also operate a Centre of Excellence, girls’ only training camps and football development centres for girls interested in playing the game.

The keynote speaker was Rimla Ahktar, chair of the Muslim Women’s Sport Foundation, who was on hand to offer advice on the barriers young women can face and how to overcome them.

‘I am honoured to attend such a fantastic event,’ she said. ‘It is very important clubs like Chelsea take the lead with young women and get them involved in events they wouldn’t usually attend.

‘The big thing for girls to learn is self-confidence. It is something I came up against but you must believe in yourself and know you can achieve what you want.

‘My advice is simply to believe in you. The opportunities are there and days like this allow you to meet people at the club and see that the opportunities are there.

‘You need to know you will be accepted so seeing role models like the women here today is important. There remains an attitudinal barrier but clubs like Chelsea are working hard to stop that which is fantastic.’

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The young women who took part in the Foundation’s Goal Getters programme last year were also in attendance, along with actor and spoken-word poet Deanna Rodger and professional rugby player Sarah McKenna.

Qualified referee and successful business women Janie Frampton, along with the Foundation’s own women’s and girls’ development officer James Phillips completed the list of experts offering advice to the young women in attendance.

Head of equalities at the PFA Simone Pound also attended the event and believes the work carried out by Chelsea on days like this is invaluable for any young women who want to pursue a career in sport.

She said: ‘The PFA are really pleased to support this event and fully endorse under-represented groups, like women, getting the chance to engage with clubs like Chelsea.

‘It is a flagship event to highlight clubs like Chelsea wanting to encourage women in to the sport. It is really important and we applaud the work Chelsea are doing.

‘The girls here today will walk away with experience and knowledge but more importantly we want them to know they can be empowered and football is a viable industry to work in if they want to pursue it.’

The event was organised and managed by the Foundation’s education team with everyone delighted the day proved such a big hit with the young women in attendance.

Schools education manager Sam Gaskin-Kemp said: ‘The event has provided us with a very exciting platform to help educate, motivate and inspire all of the young women who attended.  We hope that this is the first of many events as we continue to develop our programming around equality and diversity.’