UEFA Playmakers bridging the gap for girls in football | Inside UEFA

UEFA Playmakers is igniting a football revolution for girls in Europe. The programme is fuelling a passion for the game, not only for girls but also for female teachers and coaches.

As the momentum of women’s football continues to grow, UEFA Playmakers is not only introducing young girls to the beautiful game but doing so through the magical blend of play and Disney storytelling.

Across Europe, national football associations are turning to Playmakers to fuel the growth of girls’ participation in the sport. A vibrant community of coach educators, marketing and project managers convenes regularly to share best practices and knowledge on the programme, and this month, the spotlight shines on Wales and Norway as they present their remarkable findings.

What is UEFA Playmakers?

UEFA Playmakers is a sports activity like no other that delivers a fun and safe introduction to learning football for 5–8-year-old girls, through movement, play and the magic of Disney storytelling.

Wales – bringing football and Disney to primary schools

Young Welsh coaches cheer with the girls during a UEFA Disney Playmakers session at Thornhill Primary School in Cardiff Football Association of Wales

Since UEFA and Disney launched Playmakers in 2020, the Football Association of Wales (FAW) has been spearheading the programme as an extracurricular activity in 108 primary schools across the nation. The results have been nothing short of remarkable, with more than 1,500 enthusiastic girls participating so far.

Over 100 teachers, the majority of whom are women, have also taken part in the programme, undertaking regional training to support this initiative. Educators are regularly encouraged to take part in online networking events to share knowledge, experience and insights on leading sessions. In its inaugural year, every school received at least one visit from the FAW to ensure that Playmakers was being executed effectively and in line with its objectives.

The FAW’s dedication to fostering a love for football among young girls is not only evident in the numbers but also in the holistic approach taken to ensure the programme’s success, laying the foundation for a bright future for girls in Welsh football.

Emma Salmoni, teacher at Thornhill Primary School

“The Disney element meant that each session had a context and a structured format to follow. The girls and I loved The Incredibles link as there were such strong female characters within the story. I would definitely recommend UEFA Playmakers as I have been overwhelmed by the number of girls who wanted to join considering how many had never been involved in football before. It’s a fun, friendly atmosphere whilst promoting girls’ football and skills.”

Norway – providing coaching experience through Playmakers

Young coach Signe Amille Berget, together with one of the Playmakers participant.

Young coach Signe Amille Berget, together with one of the Playmakers participant.Norwegian Football Federation

Norway was one of seven countries to take part in the pilot version of UEFA Playmakers before its resumption in 2021 following the pandemic. On top of encouraging more girls to play, the Football Association of Norways’s (NFF) objective was also to encourage more women to gain coaching experience.

Norway has more than 108,000 active girls and women in football, with a 50-year tradition of women’s club football, and in 2022, 55 clubs and 1,100 young players got involved in the Playmakers initiative. Unique in Europe, the NFF recruited 250 young female coaches aged 14-18 to deliver the Playmakers programme. Women represented an astonishing 95% of all coaches.

In 2023, the numbers continued to rise, with 71 clubs involved, more than 1,500 participants and almost 300 young female coaches enrolled. An innovative feature has been introduced, incorporating a new Playmakers module into the UEFA C licence for grassroots coaches. This presents a fantastic opportunity for aspiring coaches to gain valuable experience, receive accredited education, and build a coaching career for the long term.

Signe Amille Berget, Playmakers coach, 16

“It’s an amazing opportunity to help coach these children and see the joy they get out of playing football. They inspire me to do my best.”

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