United Host SheGoals Project
Believing that the Beautiful Game transcends all social barriers, Hastings social enterprise Eggtooth is combining with the United club to promote a new project in women’s football. The title they have given it is SheGoals – a brand name presumably designed to appeal to intoxicated Brighton supporters (mouth it to yourself). The aim is to provide free footballing sessions at The Firs MUGA (immediately above Pilot Field on Elphinstone Road) on a weekly basis for women and girls over the age of 16, but especially for those who may have mental health difficulties, including anxiety regarding new experiences.
First SheGoals session at The Firs
PICTURE: Laura Clarke
The project arises from the work of a counsellor at High Glades GP Surgery in Hollington, Rachel Lowden, who found she had a number of female clients with an interest in football and nowhere to play. She discussed with Eggtooth the potential health benefits, both mental and physical, of promoting a team sport where women could meet other like-minded women, get fitter, and become part of a social and supportive group. Co-director and co-founder of Eggtooth Sally Greig has connections with Hastings United – not least as mother of current first team squad player Harvey Greig, who has trained with the United academy since the age of 13 – and shares the belief in football as a force for good.
“The majority of the young women that Eggtooth has supported, stopped doing any sport in secondary school due to many issues – body image, peer pressure, lack of motivation, and poor teaching and coaching”, Sally says. “We hope SheGoals will appeal to those women who would have loved to have played football more but didn’t see any opportunities for them to do so.”
She is very keen that the women who enrol make it a regular weekly event that will be integral to different aspects of their lives. “Stickability and persistence can elicit real change. The women will be outdoors, in all weathers, and will see a difference in their fitness levels. It will also be hugely fun, safe and led by coaches that are in tune with the project.”
PICTURE: Laura Clarke
SheGoals was first mooted with Hastings United CEO and chairman Billy Wood in February this year, and chimed in with his quite separate initiative in forming a competitive women’s team to play county league fixtures from August.
“There was no hesitation in partnering with Eggtooth on SheGoals”, he says. “Women’s football is a growing area of the sport that deserves attention and respect. We believe the town is showing that in its numbers by supporting the exciting Hastings United Women’s team, SheGoals adds another amazing dimension.”
Consequences of Covid
The Covid-19 lockdown imposed in March necessarily delayed the start of SheGoals sessions, and it was not until last Friday that around 15 girls and women, some of whom have barely kicked a football before, met up at The Firs for a first run-out.
Hastings United qualified coach Glyn White was there to greet them along with Sally Greig and Lilly Cooper, the project leader at Eggtooth. The players were introduced first to rigorous systems of hand sanitising and social distance management, then led onto the MUGA pitch for an hour’s preliminary training.
It’s an interesting moment to start up. With organised outdoor sport virtually the only social activity which is allowed right now to breach the Rule of Six, SheGoals presents an almost unique opportunity in Hastings for adult women of all ages to mingle once a week in a bigger group. And if any players show particular aptitude, there’s the chance for natural progression on to the United Women’s development squad – or indeed the first team.
• SheGoals is free for all women for the first year, funded by Sport England. Sessions are every Friday between 7.45pm and 9pm at The Firs.
• For more information contact [email protected] or 07944 667807
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