”VOICE OF GIRLS” IN DANISH FOOTBALL
The Women Deliver Conference in Copenhagen last week brought into focus the health, right and wellbeing of girls and women, and the role of sport was naturally on the agenda. In co-relation with the conference, the IOC hosted a side event focussing on the power of sport during which the Danish FA presented its study ”Voice of Girls”.
Last year, the Danish FA set a goal to double its amount of female members by 2025. With 20.000 female members between 13 and 18 years old, football is the biggest sport for teenage girls in Denmark, but this number is declining and the clubs find it challenging to retain the teenage girls.
The study ”Pigernes Stemme” (Voice of Girls) was recently conducted by the Danish FA and is one of the steps towards reaching the goal. The two main objectives were firstly to find out how to more effectively recruit and retain teenage girls and secondly as part of promoting women’s football in Denmark.
Based on a mix of qualitative and quantitative research, the study’s conclusions have resulted in the recommendation of five main focus areas related to retaining teenage girls in football in Denmark:
• The amount of support from family, club and coach; to girls, support from home is essential
• The coach; to girls, a coach’s focus on the social environment is just as important as the football skills
• The ability to prioritise football; half of the girls find it difficult to keep a good balance between school and football
• The social life in the club and within the team; to girls, it is almost as important to play with your friends as it is to play with someone at your own level and 40% of the girls would like their clubs to offer more social events
• The focus on womens football in the clubs; 40% of the girls feel that their clubs prioritise boys over girls and 25% of the girls have had bad experiences with changing rooms and other facilities
Action above Words
I think the study provides useful information for further action and I even recognise some of the conclusions from when I was a teenage football player myself.
But besides the five main focus areas, the study also revealed that 81% of the girls felt that there is too little focus on women’s football in the media. So I think it is great to see that the Danish FA has taken this initiative in the effort to improve the conditions for female footballers and clever to use the events in Copenhagen as an avenue for promoting women’s football. It was a great avenue in terms of reaching high profile people and organisations in a more overall perspective, however, I am not so sure how useful it was for promotion on a more local and national level – after all, it is primarily in the local clubs that the change needs to happen.
Now, it will be interesting to see how the Danish FA choose to use the information provided in the study in order to improve the conditions within women’s football in Denmark; In my world, action carries more weight than words.
The Voice of Girls study: Lethin, Anja K. (2016). Pigernes Stemme. DBU.
Line G. Johansen is a professional Goalkeeper with the Norwegian Toppserien club Amazon Grimstad FK and the Danish Women’s National Team. The talented 26-year old previously played in Denmark, England and Australia. Away from the pitch, Line holds a Master degree in Culture, Communication & Globalisation from Aalborg University, Denmark.