Preston North End striker Kevin Davies paid a visit to Carr Hill High School to help launch the Female Football Development Programme with the FA.
Davies spent an hour participating in a coaching session with the girls who recently won the Football League Girls’ Cup event run by Preston North End.
The front man was joined at the launch by PNE’s Women’s and Girls Co-ordinator Jodi Kerr who took the coaching session, Becky Grocott and Keeleigh Savage from Preston North End Women’s team, as well as various staff from the PFA, FA and Carr Hill.
The initiative is designed to get more girls involved in football between 14-25 years of age, with Preston North End delivering free coaching sessions in a bid to increase participation levels.
The target being to engage with 14,760 new female players through PNE and 53 other Football League clubs.
Speaking at the launch, Davies said: “It is nice to see the enthusiasm that they have and there is some good coaching going on.
“It is about getting them out there, being part of a team, getting some good exercise in, being healthy and having fun; which is the main thing.
“For girls it is difficult because they have other interest at this age, but some girls have a bit of talent as I just found out because one of them just nutmegged me!”
The player doing the nutmegging was PNEWFC’s Savage who had this to say about getting the better of a former England international: “I just got him, he was a bit flat footed so I thought I’d just spin him quick!
“In all seriousness, it is fun doing this and it is a good laugh, everyone is getting involved and showing off their skills.
“It’s great to have these events in high schools because if the opportunity wasn’t there at primary school level, this is a good place to start, with coaches coming in like Jodi who help them get involved.”
Speaking about the project and her role within it, Jodi said: “The aim of this women’s and girls’ project is to get more girls participating in football from the age of 14.
“The FA recognises that girls up until the age of 14 play football, but when they get to that age they become interested in other things which make them drop out.
“This initiative is to go back in to schools, promote football by delivering fun, adaptable sessions to suit their needs.
“We are in three schools at present in Preston and we are at UCLan as well.
“In every school we have 20 participants which are all female aged 14 and above, so the programme is certainly working.”
National Women and Girls Football Manager Nicole Meredith was another in attendance who was delighted to see the project in full swing.
“The girls absolutely love coming along to the sessions with their friends and having a laugh.
“We are looking at those who have never kicked a ball before or those that have dropped out the game so it is very new.
“We are trying to do it so different and so innovative and the approach we took was more friends and fitness rather than the strong stigma attached to football.”
One of the girls to participate, Year 9 student Emily, certainly gave a big thumb’s up to the work going on:
“It has been brilliant meeting Kevin today and getting the chance to train with him,” she added.
“My dream is to play professional football for Liverpool, so meeting someone who has made a career out of playing football was inspiring.
“I really enjoy the training sessions Jodi runs and I feel like we all learn a lot from her.”