Ellen White and Kelly Simmons joined forces to salute the transformational impact of National Lottery funding in enhancing the women’s game.
White, the Lionesses’ record goal scorer, and Simmons, the outgoing FA director of the women’s professional game, attended a pre-World Cup event at grassroots London club Actonians Girls FC – who are one of nearly 200 clubs to benefit from National Lottery funding in order to form a new girls’ teams following the success of England winning Euro 2022 last summer.
They are a thriving club with over 250 women and girls training and playing across nine youth teams, Wildcats, four senior teams and recreational sessions – and a new u9s side created thanks to funding from The National Lottery and its players.
And White, speaking ahead of England’s Group D opener against Haiti Down Under, said: “The growth has been incredible – and it is all down to the funding from The National Lottery players.
“Over £50 million over 10 years has been put into grassroots football so not only helping grassroots team and building teams, but then right up to the Lionesses.
“And it’s incredible. I heard recently that since the Euros nearly 200 new teams have been formed.
“That’s phenomenal to give young girls an opportunity to play football, meet new friends, enjoy themselves get out and have that opportunity to play football.
“It’s incredible and we’re really thankful to those National Lottery players.”
On the eve of England’s World Cup campaign commencing, White was back in the shadow of Wembley Stadium – where the Lionesses lifted the Euros trophy last summer – to preview the tournament and celebrate the inspirational impact of the Euros win, with Actonians Girls FC.
Sarina Wiegman’s side kick off their pursuit of World Cup glory without White, 34, who hung up her boots last year having been part of the Lionesses’ Euros win and has since given birth to her first child.
The world that her daughter has been born into is a far cry from White’s own childhood experience which saw her make front page news as she was told she was not able to play in a boys’ team.
Also in attendance at Actonians was Simmons, who paid tribute to White and her fellow Lionesses who used their position and their Euros win to call for greater access for girls to play football in schools.
“I think they’re incredible,” she said. “And I think one of the best demonstrations of that was while everybody else was celebrating the Euros, they were writing an open letter to the government calling for equal access in schools
“That demonstrates that they are really aware of their profile and their platform and they want to use that to help to drive the game forward and leave the game in a better state for future generations.
“I think that’s absolutely wonderful and they’ve got a platform and they’re absolutely using it to help drive change and inspire positive change for women and girls.”
National Lottery players have transformed women and girls’ football in the UK, with more than £50 million invested in the last 10 years alone. Find out how your numbers make amazing happen at: www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk #TNLAthletes #MakeAmazingHappen