There will be more than double the number of clubs hosting the UEFA Disney Playmakers programme around the country in 2023.
The hugely popular programme, tailored for girls aged 5-8 years old, started two years ago with 30 clubs part of the pilot roll-out but that number is now set to exceed 120 when the programme begins in April.
By integrating storytelling and imaginative play using Disney characters from popular movies such as Frozen 2, Incredibles 2 and Moana, there is a fun, interactive approach to the programme that also focuses on developing fundamental movement, as well as life and football skills.
UEFA Disney Playmakers in Numbers 2021: 30 clubs involved, 820 girls playing 2022: 52 clubs involved, 2,016 girls playing 2023: 120 clubs expected, over 4,000 girls expected
Republic of Ireland Women’s National Team Manager Vera Pauw helped to launch the 2023 programme at Hartstown / Huntstown FC and she said: “The UEFA Disney Playmakers is such a fantastic programme for the development of girls’ football and you can see that it works because of the clear enjoyment that the girls get from playing small-sided games. Only when they have experienced the fun of it can they choose to keep coming back. With the coaches at the club and the FAI support staff, this programme helps make that next step for girls go more smoothly.
“It is so important in this year, when we the Ireland Team are going to their first ever World Cup, that every girl around the country who wants to play football has that opportunity. This programme ensures that is the case and I hope it leads to a lifetime involvement in the game for them.”
FAI Programme Coordinator for Women’s Football, Pearl Slattery believes the impact of this programme has been clear to see, but it can and should continue to grow.
“When UEFA approached us about being one of the first countries to host the Disney Playmakers programme, we were excited about its potential because it approaches football development from a different angle through storytelling and that has proven to be a big hit with girls all around the country.
“Ultimately, this programme is all about introducing girls to football, having fun, learning life skills and making new friends. One of the other major advantages of it though has been the development of coaches at Grassroots clubs with over 200 coaches trained specifically to deliver this programme and over 60% of those coaches are female.”