Giving girls a sporting chance

Chelsea Ladies captain Katie Chapman was the guest of honour when more than 150 girls descended on Stamford Bridge as our global charity partner, Plan International, hosted their inaugural ‘Goals for Girls’ event.

Chapman took part in a Q&A, signed autographs and posed for photos with the delighted youngsters at the event, designed to challenge assumptions that football is more suited to men than women.

Plan International staff and Chelsea Foundation coaches also led an interactive workshop for the 180 girls, aged 10 to 13, which looked at the barriers to girls taking part in sport both here in the UK and globally.

Ladies skipper Chapman, fresh from winning the WSL Spring Series title on Saturday, was delighted to join the youngsters and help challenge the assumptions that girls can’t play football.

She said: ‘We need to ensure that girls understand that football, and sport more generally, is just as suitable for girls.

‘It’s great to see so many girls from across London here at Stamford Bridge. I find it refreshing that they are all so interested and involved in football or sport in general.

‘Organising these big events makes a real difference. It’s nice for the girls here to experience the same opportunities as boys and know that they should follow their dreams without feeling any restrictions. We have to show that there should always be equality, whatever the circumstances, whether it’s in football, sport or everyday life.

‘It’s a shame in this day and age that so many people still believe football is a man’s game, but the way the women’s game has progressed is changing a lot of perceptions. Female players have to keep pushing, especially us older ones who have seen the development over the years, and keep encouraging young girls to play football.

‘It will take a bit more time to overcome some of the hurdles, which is a shame, but we have already been through a massive breakthrough in women’s football. Perceptions will continue to improve, the bigger the game gets and the more people actually see it.

‘I’m glad we’re going in the right direction with so many inspiring female athletes. The important thing is that young girls have the chance to enjoy football as much as boys.’

Plan International became Chelsea FC’s global charity partner in September 2015, and together we are working to change the lives of children in Asia, Africa and South America.

Our joint project in Colombia harnesses the power and popularity of football and Chelsea, to help keep children safe in a country where gangs, guns and domestic violence diminish the life chances of girls and boys as they grow up.

Across the world, Plan International is using football to help educate young people, especially girls - making sure they stay in school longer, marry later, and have the chance to fulfil their potential.

Click to find out more about Chelsea’s partnership with Plan International