Award-winning ‘She Inspires’ football tournament returns for a second season


The award-winning ‘She Inspires’ football tournament is returning for a second season.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, and Chief Constable, Serena Kennedy, are marking International Women’s Day by announcing they are re-launching the initiative, which gives girls across the region the chance to gain vital skills on and off the pitch, for a second year this summer and autumn.

Supported by a squad of top sporting partners including Liverpool County FA, Liverpool FC Foundation, Everton in the Community and the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership, this year’s competition is set to be even bigger and better than last year, reaching even more young women across the region.

She Inspires 2023 will be on offer to girls aged 11 to 14, particularly in areas where other youth services have been cut and where they have limited access to extracurricular opportunities.

Delivered in partnership with schools, this year’s competition will kick off with an inspirational launch event taking place in the summer which will be followed by 12-weeks of free coaching sessions with additional educational activities through the autumn term.  The girls will then be offered the chance to earn recognised and fully funded qualifications in coaching and refereeing through the County FA.

More than 120 young women aged between 15 and 18 took part in last year’s tournament, culminating in an exciting finale at the Jeffrey Humble in Aintree in July attended by Liverpool FC Women player Missy Bo Kearns.

The initiative was so successful it was awarded for Innovation in the Women and Girls Football category at the 2022 County FA awards in recognition of its work to improve grassroots football, encourage new players and inspiring existing ones at Wembley Stadium last November.

Merseyside’s Police Commissioner, Emily Spurrell, said: “I’m thrilled to be marking International Women’s Day by announcing the second year of our award-winning She Inspires initiative.

“The Chief Constable and I are united in our determination to provide better opportunities for young people across Merseyside to help them build their confidence, use their time positively and reach their full potential.

“It was a genuine privilege to see the excitement, enthusiasm and progress of the many talented young women who took part in the first tournament last year. I’m thrilled we can offer even more girls this brilliant opportunity to make the most of their sporting abilities while also gaining valuable life skills, earn qualifications and even embark on an exciting new career.

“Football is a such brilliant way to engage and inspire young people, particularly here in Merseyside and with the women’s game on such a huge high, this tournament is a great gateway for us to reach and inspire girls across our region.”

Merseyside Police’s Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG) lead Chief Superintendent Ngaire Waine, said: “I’m really pleased to be able to announce that our award winning ‘She Inspires’ tournament will be taking place again this year.

“This time last year we launched the tournament for the first time – and in the last 12 months we’ve had the privilege of watching girls and young women make real progress on and off the pitch.

“I was lucky enough to be able to attend the final in July and witness the culmination of all that first-class training and hard work. By broadening the scope of the competition to include those as young as 14 it means even more girls can be a part of that exciting experience.

“Although this tournament is a joint venture between the Chief Constable and the Police and Crime Commissioner, really it’s about the fantastic things that can happen when sport and education go hand in hand.  Girls in Merseyside deserve to have those opportunities and to benefit from them.”

Liverpool FA Chief Executive Officer Anthony Smith said: “We’re delighted to be able to confirm on International Women’s Day the continuation of the award winning She Inspires Football Programme.

“2022 saw us engage with over 120 girls across Merseyside and this year will see the programme roll out to Secondary Schools allowing us to reach even more girls. Our collective commitment with our partners remains, to use football to help, support, educate and inspire girls across our region and we’re looking forward to further developing the programme.”

Everton in the Community’s Chief Executive Officer Sue Gregory said: “We're excited to be delivering the 'She Inspires' project once again to empower more females to participate and succeed in sport. We often speak about how powerful sport can be in inspiring people, so to be able to deliver a project which focuses on providing pathways and easy access routes for women and girls is one we're looking forward to being part of.

"England's victory in the European Championships encapsulated the whole country last summer, and we have a real opportunity to continue to build on the momentum since then to inspire the next generation of females into football."

Matt Parish, LFC Foundation Chief Executive, said “I’m proud that we’ve once again partnered with the Chief Constable, the PCC, the Violence Reduction Partnership, Liverpool County FA and Everton in the Community.”

“Last season we set out to provide local young women with the opportunity to become more involved in sport, to gain qualifications and to provide further sports education opportunities.”

“We delivered tailored football sessions at 12 community sites across the Liverpool City Region and offered practical on pitch skills training with educational courses in refereeing and coaching.”

“235 programmes entered the Women and Girls Football Award at the 2022 County FA Recognition Awards. To win the award for ‘She Inspires’ highlights the impact the programme had in a short space of time and the legacy we have left on sport, football and education opportunities for young women around Liverpool City Region

“This season our goal is to expand ‘She Inspires’ to include girls aged 13 and 14, allowing more girls to take part and experience the exciting opportunities within sport”.

Geraldine O’Driscoll, Temporary Director for the Merseyside Violence Reduction Partnership said: “Since the launch of She Inspires’, women’s football has been at the forefront of sporting success.  We are really pleased that the tournament will be running for a second season, to inspire even more women and girls.  It gives an opportunity for those involved to learn new skills, join with their peers, enjoy the sport and experience something really positive.”

Making a difference

She Inspires is already helping Charlie Garrod get to the top of the league.

Charlie Garrod

The 16-year-old from Halewood was a member of the winning team, Liverpool Feds White, in last year’s tournament before going on to complete both the Introduction to Coaching and refereeing course.

Securing these professional qualifications have been a stepping-stone for a future career in coaching, enabling her to progress on to the UEFA C coaching course.

Charlie said: “The introduction to coaching course helped me prepare for UEFA C and I have applied what I learned when coaching the Liverpool Feds U8/9's as it helped me with understanding safeguarding of young people and how to interact better with them to get the best out of them.  I am now able to confidently talk to my U8/9 girls to encourage and motivate them when they are feeling nervous.

“The coaching qualification has given me a professional coaching badge and from this I have been successful in my application for the UEFA C course which is the next step on the professional coaching pathway and needed if I want to work in football as a coach. My application has also been fully funded and so I am really fortunate and lucky to have these amazing opportunities and want to thank Merseyside Police and the County FA for supporting me and other girls.”

As well as coaching, Charlie also took advantage of the fully funded refereeing qualification and is now refereeing local women and girls’ football matches and tournaments.

She added: “The course has given me the ability to make judgements about fouls and when to give a card and I hope to use this and grow my confidence when I apply this referring games. 

“It is also an employment route while I am studying football and sport at college that means I am working in the industry I want to work in while studying and building my CV.”