The Sheffield and Hallamshire Women and Girls League has welcomed 56 new teams and 1,007 first-time participants this season, of which three quarters are between the ages of eight and 18.
The number of registered female players with the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA (SHCFA) has jumped from 2,650 last year to 3,638 in 2021. That figure is also up by 691 from 2019 when 2,947 were registered.
“It’s incredible to see more clubs creating equal opportunities for girls to take part in football while ensuring every person within the community has a chance to play organised football,” said Molly Johnson, youth development officer at the SHCFA.
The SHCFA wants to double the number of girls in the region aged five to 16 who play football as they bid to capitalise on the legacy from next summer’s Women’s Euro 2022 tournament, which will be held in England.
Bramall Lane will stage three group games as well as the semi-final for England’s side of the draw, meaning the Lionesses could play in the city.
Three group-stage matches and a quarter-final clash will also take place at Rotherham United’s New York Stadium.
The Weetabix Wildcats programme, which delivers non-competitive football sessions by FA-qualified coaches and volunteers for girls aged five to 11, has been credited as a key driver behind the rise of the women’s game in South Yorkshire along with the growing popularity of the Women’s Super League.
Sheffield-based Charnock Rideway FC is one of 56 approved Weetabix Wildcats providers across South Yorkshire.
Michael Carl, the club’s chairman, said: “Over the last 18 months, we have seen with over 50 girls try football for the first time through our Wildcats programme, with a strong number of those going on to play for our youth teams or continue their football journey at other clubs.”
Football fans are set to discover which games will be hosted in South Yorkshire when the Women’s Euro 2022 draw is made on Thursday.
Tickets are available to buy now from UEFA.com with prices starting at £10.