Grassroots / Looking Forward / Reflecting

Looking Forward 4 – Provide the opportunities

It’s been a fantastic week with the women’s lionesses winning the European Championships and the conversations about levelling up. Add to that, giving children the opportunity to play football at schools is on just about every radio station and media outlet.

Having been in teaching now for 25 years I’ve seen those opportunities given to children and to the girls but I very much believe that it’s down to the people in the schools that provide those opportunities – they make these things happen. I’ve also had the benefit of having worked in primary and secondary now and the lack of opportunity for our secondary aged children is, for me, the reason why we sometimes miss these chances.

Leicester City’s Women’s Premier League footballer, Jemma Purfield, inspiring girls to play.

The fact that this has been talked about on all the various media outlets is a great thing because the alternative is, it not being discussed and many people in many schools, just revelling in the glory and pride of all the lionesses achieved but offering nothing to the children in the schools.

During a recent interview I think it was the Chelsea women’s manager who was said not to be drawn into the whole discussion on gender equality and the reason I understand was, always aiming for equality for everybody. This is the view that I share wholeheartedly and on many occasions wonder why certain things are discussed – why don’t we just offer everybody equal opportunities?

It was nice to recently have a comment from a child I taught 21 years ago who said thanks for the opportunity she had to be the first girl to play in the school football team. I do believe everybody should have equal opportunities and football teams and schools should have ‘school’ football teams and ‘girls’. And the only reason I would have a girls football team is to encourage those who have so many people around them that don’t naturally believe that football is something for their daughter or throw their child into such opportunities.

Opportunities are something I always talk about and try to give to so many children and young people. I believe that having the opportunity to try something new may well lead to a real purpose for that child; something that they may like to pursue in their life going forward, whether as a hobby or an occupation.

School cricket team at the County Finals at Grace Road (boys and girls in the team).

So I say well done to the many people out there who do offer a wide range of opportunities to all of those around them and do not have limited views on what people are capable of. Everybody, and I mean everybody, can be great at something and we should be doing our upmost to provide the opportunities so that people can discover something that they enjoy and can be amazing at.

If you’re in a position to provide these opportunities, be brilliant and provide them.

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