EFFORTS to get girls to play football have been making great strides in recent years, but many youngsters are still frozen out.

Now the Scottish FA are hoping a new approach will encourage more young females to take up a sport which has traditionally been the preserve of the boys in the playground.

Targeting 5-8 year-old girls who don't play football, the 'Playmakers' programme will use coaching sessions inspired by stories and characters from Disney films.

And unlike Cinderella, it is hoped that girls won't run away from the ball.

Taking its cue from academic research showing the positive role of storytelling in getting children take up sport, Playmakers aims to increase the proportion of girls meeting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) minimum standards for physical activity.


Julia Greive with UEFA President Aleksander Caferin

Statistics from Leeds Beckett University show that fewer than one in six girls under the age of 17 meet this target in the UK, and the programme is being rolled out in a bid to raise activity levels higher.

Scotland national team and Chelsea FC striker Erin Cuthbert believes that the programme dwarfs other attempts to get girls into football.

She said: “This latest initiative from Disney and UEFA is fantastic and offers a new way for children to begin playing football. I absolutely love Disney, even at the age of 21.

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"When I was younger, this is definitely something I would loved to have been a part of.

“I can see a huge difference now in terms of the number of young girls taking part in football from when I was growing up and playing in a boys team.

“Using Disney will not only make football even more enjoyable for girls at a young age, but will also hopefully increase participation levels even more. I can’t wait to see the positive effect that this programme will have.”


Nadine Kessler, UEFA Head of Women’s Football, (left)

Scotland is one of the first countries in Europe to launch the scheme, along with Norway, Belgium, Poland, Austria, Romania, and Serbia .

Playmakers will roll out through schools, clubs and local communities. More associations are expected to introduce the programme later in the year.  

Among the youngsters taking part in the Scottish launch this week was 8-year-old Glasgow footballer Julia Grieve, granddaughter of Aberdeen, Partick Thistle and St Mirren player Ian Cameron.

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Playmaker’s ten initial training sessions follow the narrative of Disney and Pixar’s billion dollar global box office smash hit, Incredibles 2.

Equipped with footballs, bibs and cones, trained coaches encourage participants to play the roles of popular characters, such as Elastigirl, Violet, Mr Incredible and Dash, bringing the film’s action scenes to life through movement, teamwork and their imagination.


Later sessions introduce girls to basic football skills, but the programme continues to put the emphasis on making sport fun.

“If you’re going to teach football through the power of storytelling and play, you have to do it with the best stories and characters in the world, and Disney is the perfect partner for this,” said Nadine Kessler, UEFA Head of Women’s Football.

“By taking that Disney magic, and implementing the first-ever pan-European girls’ grassroots football programme, we will give any girl the best possible opportunity to fall in love with football."

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She added: “As a playmaker on the pitch, you have all the possibilities to shape the game around you, to be creative from so many different perspectives,” said Kessler.

“We want girls to have the same feeling and be encouraged to create their own game and make their own decisions.

This is exactly what this programme is about – creating an environment for all girls to flourish and develop."