The FAI and Aviva have announced a revamped Soccer Sisters programme, which will see up to 6,000 girls aged between 6 and 14 learn and play football for free over the Easter holidays this year.
In excess of 150 camps and other activities will take place throughout the country between April 15-26.
Aviva have worked with the FAI to help to double the number of spaces available nationwide, and for the first time, the camps will be completely free to take part in.
Making the camps free will remove one of the biggest barriers to getting young girls from all demographics of society involved. Summer and Easter camps across all the main sports see hundreds of thousands of kids taking part. Generally there is a cost to cover the gear that generally comes with them as well as the time investment on the part of coaches and development officers.
Having Aviva absorb that cost is a significant step which will open up the camps to everyone. Even when the cost was seen as good value that is often not enough for families who are to the pin of their collar to pay for food never mind fun.
It’s a massive step forward and one to be applauded in every way.
This year’s festival format will incorporate Football Camps where participants will receive a limited-edition Aviva Soccer Sisters Jersey, and an official FAI Aviva Soccer Sisters completion certificate. In addition, many areas will see Football blitzes delivered with the emphasis on the non-competitive element of football.
Finally, increased participation numbers will mean that more volunteers will be needed to help to facilitate the game, and make sure that girls are playing in a safe and fun environment.
Free volunteer and coaching workshops will also be rolled out in selected venues as part of the festival for parents to get involved.
That in itself will create a greater sustainability to cater for the increase in demand. A winner all round.
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All participating clubs will be in with a chance to win a place at the Aviva Soccer Sisters Dream Camp, which will take place at Aviva Stadium on May 29, where players will get the opportunity to play on the same field as their national heroes. Parents and coaches will be invited to nominate their clubs for a dream day out in the stadium. Details will be announced via Aviva’s social channels in the coming weeks.
Republic of Ireland women’s international players Niamh Farrelly and Isibeal Atkinson were on hand in Aviva Stadium to launch the Festival today, along with TV Broadcaster, Cook and Columnist Yvonne Connolly.
Connolly, who has always had a keen interest in sports, will be joining her daughter Ali and getting involved at their local camp in Malahide this Easter.
“The Aviva Soccer Sisters Camps have played a significant part in the growth of our game over the past number of years,” said FAI Head of Women’s Football Sue Ronan at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.
“The camps provide young girls with the opportunity to play in a fun, safe environment, something that is very important at that age and which helps to nurture a love for the game.”
“This year we aim to attract around 6,000 girls to the camps, with many going on to join their local club and becoming the future of women’s football in Ireland.”
“Aviva is proud to be involved with the FAI Soccer Sisters,” added Brian O’Neill, Head of Communications, Brand and Sponsorship at Aviva Ireland.
“We are committed to getting more girls involved in sport at a young age and have worked with the FAI to make soccer more accessible to everyone. With the introduction of free places on camps for both girls and parents this year, we hope to bring the sport to a brand new audience.”
“We are delighted to have Niamh, Isibeal and Yvonne here today, which shows that no matter what your level of exposure is to the game, you are welcome to participate.”
The camps, blitzes and coaching workshops will run on various dates and locations throughout Ireland during the Easter school break. To find out more about Aviva Soccer Sisters and how to sign up for one of the Easter Football Festivals, log on to www.soccersisters.ie