Julia Hogan is a young woman on a mission – to get more women and girls in South Leeds playing football.
She’s been working for the past year, with three other students from Leeds Beckett University, researching opportunities in the area for women and girls to take part in any active sports and is disappointed with their findings.
“There’s a big gap between what’s out there and the community’s wants and needs. That’s even more so for black and ethnic minority women” she says. “There’s also a problem that most people don’t know what is available.”
“Sport is so important. Not just for health, but for life skills. If you can be a leader or a team player on the pitch, you can take that skill to other parts of your life.”
The group have planned a series of different events to try and improve the situation. They have already started running six week programmes at both Cockburn School and The South Leeds Academy.
They are running a session each Wednesday in the Easter holidays at the Hunslet Club. In the first week they will be making a campaign video. Then in the second session they will be visiting the West Yorkshire County FA and meeting established women footballers.
There will be two drop in sessions, again at the Hunslet Club, on Thursday 20 and Friday 21 April from 6pm. This is a chance for any women or girls of any age to pop in and find out more about sporting opportunities available in South Leeds.
On 5 May they have organised a football festival for local primary schools at the John Charles Centre for Sport. The day will feature taster sessions of a range of activities for children to try between their five-a-side matches.
Julia is also involved in a new turn up and play women’s football session at the Hunslet Club, where she is a long time member and volunteer. The sessions, on Thursdays at 7pm are social as well sporting and all women aged 16+ are welcome.
Julia hopes these initiatives will give the women’s sports agenda a push, but says there’s much more to do: “Clubs think it’s enough to set something up and people will come, but the truth is you need to go to where people are.”
Julia, James, Louisa and Devon are all final year students studying Sports Development. They are hoping their degrees will lead them in different but linked directions, to football, events management, youth work and disabled sports.
They have enjoyed working in the area, “We’ve met some right characters, it’s been fun.” They have also left a legacy: a toolkit for other to use and a continuing link to Leeds Beckett University.