‘Girls. Team not only on the pitch’ – the new PZPN campaign is launched!
The Polish Football Association (PZPN) continues to develop women's football and has just launched a promotional campaign aimed at encouraging girls to play football. Its goal is to prove that football is not just a sport but, above all, an arena from which extraordinary life experiences and useful skills can be gained, regardless of gender.
As part of the "Girls. Team not only on the pitch" campaign, the website druzynadziewczyn.pl has been launched to introduce the opportunities to get involved in football in different roles. In addition, there will be guides for girls and their parents and answers to frequently asked questions, as well as a contact list for those responsible for women's football in the region. In addition to promotional and media activities, an important element of the campaign is the provision of a map with football offers throughout Poland to all interested parties.
"Thanks to a map prepared by the Polish Football Association, finding a place to practise football is much easier. We recognise that this is particularly important for girls' football. At this point, we also encourage all clubs to open up with their football offer to this group and remind them that until the age of 15, girls can take part in league competition alongside boys. We want all girls who want to pursue football to have the opportunity to do so, but for this to happen, we need the involvement of the whole community," emphasises Łukasz Wachowski, the general secretary of the Polish Football Association.
Just as important as the map, the campaign will include the implementation of girls' festivals in all 16 voivodeships in Poland in the first half of 2024. They will be organised in cooperation with the Regional Football Association and will give female participants the chance to give football a try and find a club for themselves. The aim of the stationary events will be to introduce girls and their relatives to the world of football in a friendly and accessible format, and to give them the necessary information to start their football adventure. All to prove that football is an interesting and safe space to develop your passion and build friendships.
Research by PZPN and UEFA and other institutions is clear – girls who play football gain not only physical benefits but also benefits in other areas, compared to their peers. "Active participation in football contributes, among other things, to self-confidence. As many as 80 percent of girls admit that playing football makes them feel more confident in everyday situations: at home, at school, among their peers. Belonging to a team, overcoming challenges and achieving goals together boosts their self-esteem and develops soft skills," emphasises Wachowski. Football also allows them to develop the habit of an active lifestyle, which will pay off with better physical and mental health in the future. And this is all just a "side effect" of the great entertainment available to everyone, not just boys and men, as was wrongly thought for years."
The UEFA report "The Psychological and Emotional Benefits of Playing Football on Girls and Women in Europe" further proves that girls who play football are more likely to have a positive attitude towards their bodies and cope better with stress. More than half have paid less attention to opinions about themselves since they started training. Through competition on the pitch, the girls also learn teamwork, communication and problem-solving, skills that are extremely useful in everyday life, but also in their future careers, whether they stay in sport or choose a completely different path.
"I believe that actions such as this campaign, influencing public awareness, are necessary and can change our football reality. I am convinced that football, apart from its sporting development, also brings a number of other benefits that can be seen off the pitch," says Nina Patalon, the head coach of the Polish women's national team and the coordinator of women's football training at PZPN. "Not every girl has to become a professional footballer in the future, although as a head coach, I hope that the number of those playing professionally will increase every year. On the other hand, every girl can, thanks to the football, be a confident woman in adulthood, and this is something we should all care about. Moreover, during joint training sessions, matches and tournaments, new friendships will be formed, often for life."
Friendships built on a football foundation are extremely durable. A shared passion binds for years and later in life becomes an excuse to get together, go to the stadium or watch a game in front of the TV. It is an opportunity to participate in football for life, in the various roles available. For many, football also becomes a guide both for discovering their strengths and for self-improvement.
The "Girls. Team not just on the pitch" campaign aims to change the stereotypical perception of the role of girls in sport. This also applies to the perspective of parents, who today do not always support their daughters enough, while they are the ones who should motivate the doubters and suggest football to those who would not even think of it as a form of leisure activity.
"I can assure you that during training and matches, the girls will experience an adventure full of unforgettable emotions on the pitch and, in the process, experience valuable life lessons," Patalon emphasises. "I remember my beginnings when I was training with male friends because I didn't have female friends who played football. I can see how things have been changing rapidly in recent years. This can be seen in the growing number of female players, coaches, referees and supporters. I am glad that there are more and more of us. I am happy that I am now "playing" on the girls' team!"
"As the Polish Football Association, we have no doubt that football is for girls! That is why we want as many of them as possible to join our team. We believe that football will give them power, help them meet new female friends and make their dreams come true," says the general secretary of the Polish Football Association.
The "Girls. Team not only on the pitch" campaign carried out with the support of UEFA is the next step of the Polish Football Association in implementing the document "Time for us! Women's football strategy in Poland for 2022-2026." For more information about the campaign, visit druzynadziewczyn.pl. Join us and support the girls! #DrużynaDziewczyn (#GirlsTeam).