Source: Steve Bardens - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

Thousands take part in the FA’s #Letgirlsplay Big Football Day

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To celebrate the start of England’s Women’s World Cup campaign, the grassroots community came together on Saturday 22 July to take part in The FA’s #LetGirlsPlay Big Football Day.

Fans with Let Girls Play foam fingers during the Big Football Day at Ruislip Rangers FC (Photo by Steve Bardens – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

From Newcastle to Cornwall, clubs from across the country hosted Big Football Day events to show their support for the Lionesses and highlight the importance of unlocking equal access to football for girls.

As England defeated Haiti 1-0, over 5,000 participants signed up to take part in Big Football Day activities led by clubs, coaches and volunteers up and down the country. From taster sessions for young players wanting to give football a go, to free coaching workshops, walking football sessions and watch parties for the England v Haiti group stage match, the day brought the grassroots community together to inspire more women and girls get into football as players, coaches and volunteers.

Ian Jones, a coach at AFC Urmston Meadowside in Manchester which hosted a Big Football Day event, commented: “It’s been a phenomenal day. We’ve had face painting, live music and a real community atmosphere. We’ve seen a huge increase in demand for girls’ football since the Lionesses’ incredible victory at the EUROs last summer, so it was a no brainer to get involved with the Let Girls Play Big Football Day. With the World Cup underway it’s going to be another great summer of football and the whole grassroots community is fully behind the team, every step of the way.”

Players participate in a Youth Football Session during the Big Football Day at Ruislip Rangers FC  (Photo by Steve Bardens – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Former England international Carly Telford, who attended a Big Football Day event at Ruislip Rangers FC in London, commented: “The Lionesses inspired the nation last summer, so it was a real pleasure to get involved with the Big Football Day and see first-hand just how excited young girls and boys are to cheer the team on throughout the World Cup. For my generation, access to football was so much harder to come by and we often had to play on boys’ teams if there was no team set up for girls. I’m proud to be supporting the FA’s Let Girls Play campaign, which ensures the next generation don’t have to fight for the right to play football.”

The FA’s Let Girls Play campaign aims to support giving girls equal access to football in schools and clubs, an ambition which was backed by the Prime Minister earlier this year as the Government announced that every girl in England will be given the same access to football in schools as boys do.

The next phase of the Let Girls Play campaign is to extend the equal access target to grassroots clubs, ensuring they open their doors to girls to give them the same opportunities to play football as boys.

For more information about the Big Football Day click here.

With thanks to the FA