Arsenal and Hartlepool star kicks off drive to get girls playing football

ENGLAND international Jordan Nobbs was in Hartlepool to launch a new initiative aimed at getting more girls and women playing football.

The Arsenal and England ace is the daughter of Hartlepool United legend Keith Nobbs and the 21-year-old visited St Hild’s Church of England School, in King Oswy Drive, to launch the Female Football Development programme.

HARD WORK: Participants in the football course at St Hild's school

HARD WORK: Participants in the football course at St Hild's school

The aim is to get 360 14 to 25-year-olds playing football and a £13,000 grant is going to help achieve that figure.

The money has been awarded to Hartlepool United’s Community Sports Foundation (HUCSF) Charity and it will see the club and the Durham FA work with schools and colleges across the area.

It is the second year the charity has been awarded funding after last year helping 180 young women take up the sport.

St Hild’s, which has a growing number of teenage girls taking up football, staged the launch and Arsenal midfielder Jordan took part in a coaching session.

Jordan Nobbs watched by St Hild's school pupils Robyn McLeod and Demi Stoddart (right)

Jordan Nobbs watched by St Hild's school pupils Robyn McLeod and Demi Stoddart (right)

Jordan told the Mail: “I didn’t have this opportunity when I was growing up so it is brilliant to see so many young girls and women taking part in it.

“I went to soccer school’s that my dad put on but the vast majority of people there were boys.

“This is an excellent chance for young girls to develop their skills and to really boost their confidence.”

Her no-nonsense defender dad made 327 appearances for Pools between 1985 and 1993.

Keith, who is HUCSF Development Officer, said: “We are looking to increase the participation in women and girls football.

“It is great that Jordan came to the launch because the girls here can see someone who has made it to the top of her profession - she can be their inspiration.”

Jonathan Gibbon-Hayes, higher level teaching assistant at St Hilds, said the school has gone from having four girls take part in their after school sessions to 24 in the space of 12-months.

They now have two age groups, 11 to 14 and 14 to 16 and Mr Gibbon-Hayes added: “There are a lot of talented young footballers in Hartlepool and it is great we can encourage them in this way.”

The Female Football Development programme (FFD) has been launched throughout England by the Football League Trust and in this area will encourage girls to take up the sport in Hartlepool, Durham and parts of Teesside.

Nicol Meredith, National Women’s and Girls’ Football Project Co-ordinator, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity.”

To learn more about The Football League Trust’s Female Football Development programme email nmeredith@fltrust.co.uk.