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Pioneering programme to create future female football leaders launches in Kent

A charitable programme set up seeks to address gender imbalance and inequality in the beautiful game.

Following a jam-packed summer of sport, the legacy of a wonderful Olympic and Paralympic games in Rio is set to continue, in the heart of Kent.

The Eighth Wonder programme offers 14-20 year old women a unique opportunity to break into the world of football. Founded by former Kent FA and Gillingham FC Head of Marketing and Communications, Charlotte Richardson, the programme is set to create 50 future female leaders of football.

In partnership with the Kent County Football Association and K Sports, the programme kick-starts on Friday 28th October 2016. With a day full of development sessions and workshops, this event enhances participants' skills and confidence, under the watchful eye of a host of experienced mentors from across Kent football.

Following this one-off day of in-depth training and personal development, participants will be placed on a mentoring scheme, providing them with support and guidance to contribute to Kent's volunteer workforce.

A volunteering placement scheme across the county will see Eighth Wonder participants provided with unique opportunities to obtain experience; whether as a coach, administrator, marketer, journalist or any other role within the game.

As the programme begins to welcome applications for the inaugural day, Charlotte Richardson hopes the opportunity is one many will want to grasp.

“Eighth Wonder is all about instilling self-belief and confidence in young women with ambitions to get involved in football. It’s common knowledge that a number of barriers exist for women in football and this opportunity seeks to provide young women with a truly unique head start on a journey that could take them anywhere.”

Partners of the programme, Kent FA are hosting the day at their headquarters in Ditton. Football Development Officer, Natalie Curtis, believes the programme can attract a lot of interest following the successful growth of the women’s game nationally.

“Ever since London 2012 and the England Lionesses third place finish at the FIFA World Cup, momentum and growth has been vast for the women’s game. The Eighth Wonder programme identifies how great the contribution of women is and by enabling us with a way to match participants with clubs across the county, it has the potential to make sure Kent football stays ahead of the game.”

The programme is also backed by Kent Sport, Coaching Network Officer, Louisa Arnold who predicts the event could have a real impact upon the volunteering community in the county.

“Kent Sport are delighted to support such a fantastic initiative for young women in Football. Volunteering in sport is a great way to meet people, develop new skills and more importantly ensure that people can take part in sport. I am sure the Eighth Wonder programme will be a great success and provide incredibly rewarding and invaluable experiences for all those involved.”

Tina Spry, Sports Participation Manager at Medway Sport, Medway Council added her support for the programme.

“Having worked in the sporting industry for a long time I am personally delighted to say that currently women's sport is enjoying its most successful period. This programme is a fantastic example of taking that a step further. This could also uniquely set football apart as being ahead of the game in actively engaging with women and girls to ensure that any skills gaps are met head on and pro-actively moved forward with the right support and mentoring to keep them in the game for longer.”

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