NE Girls 4

Believe in yourself

Football is helping to grow the confidence of girls in North Edinburgh

A youth work project is using sport and physical activity to help build the confidence of young women and girls in the North of Edinburgh. 

Muirhouse Youth Development Group (MYDG) supports and engages young people with a focus on health and wellbeing. Through their current work it was identified that many of the girls in the areas of Muirhouse and Pilton were lacking in confidence in themselves.

There are many challenges for young women in the area, which might be cause of the low self esteem and resilience. For example, there’s currently a lack of opportunities for young women and girls to participate in female focused physical activity, and a lack of visible female role models from different backgrounds within North Edinburgh. 

Despite these challenges, the young girls currently supported by MYDG have a keen interest in activities like football, volleyball and gym based physical activity. Also through their current activities the girls have built up good connections with the staff and volunteers who support the current activities.

Through conversations with North Edinburgh Community Sport Hub, a new project was launched to support a targeted group of up to 15 girls and young women aged between 10-14 that were identified by MYDG staff, through current girls youth work activity in both their evening and school based programmes. 

North Edinburgh Community Sport Hub are part of the national sportscotland national lottery funded community sport hub network that bring sports clubs and community organisations together locally to improve the contribution sport and physical activity has within communities. 

Through partners from the hub, the project launched at West Pilton Community Centre and Craigroyston Community High School, using football as the main hook to get the girls along. 

Cara Conway, Youth Development Worker at MYDG said “We noticed for some time the lack of confidence in girls in late primary and early secondary school from this area.

"Adding a sports session alongside our office-based sessions gives the girls a chance to build their confidence in a safe space with their friends.

"It helps as it gives us more time with the girls, and they’re often more chilled out and up for a chat after a game."

The sessions are held on Tuesday nights between 5pm-6pm, a time identified as a gap in current provision and free for the girls to attend. Youth work provisions and support will be led by MYDG, with the football element of the sessions delivered by a local young woman, Chelsea, who is currently at the local college studying sports coaching while also undertaking placements in local youth work organisations. 

There is also the opportunity to add additional sports to the programme through the community sport hub depending on the wants of the young people. 

Thanks to funding from sportscotland’s inclusion project fund, City of Edinburgh were successful in a bid to enhance woman and girls activity and development in identified areas. As a result, Chelsea will be funded to access SFA coaching certificates and leadership support from the local Spartans Community Foundation to further her skills. 

Jonathan Wallace, Development Officer for community sport hubs at The City of Edinburgh Council commented on the partnership saying: “It’s been great working with MYDG. In our first chats they quickly identified that local girls needed more support, and they were very interested in having somewhere to play football as a group. 

“MYDG wanted to do more youth work through sport but just needed some help to make that happen.

"I was able to bring a couple of our other CSH partners into the conversation and from there we found a venue, funding, and support for a local young person to lead the sport delivery.”

Despite the programme being in its early stages, it’s clear the programme is already making positive steps to supporting the girls as one participant, aged 11 said: “It’s great to have somewhere we can play football with just girls there. I really enjoy it."

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