Primary Times chats with UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 players about how they’re using the tournament to inspire children

The UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 is set to take place in England in July. Due to be the biggest European women’s sport event ever, Primary Times caught up with two England Women’s stars; defender Demi Stokes and fellow defender and captian Leah Williamson to ask them about their experience with sports at school and how teachers play an important role in growing a child’s passion.

“This summer’s UEFA Women’s EURO tournament is hugely exciting, not least because it’s on home soil. The last two years have been so hard for everyone and so the tournament is an opportunity for us all to enjoy ourselves, inspire one another and see fans and family,” Demi Stokes said.

However, gettingto play for England at an event such as this has taken these girls a lot of hard work and determination, which all began during their time in school with the help of their teachers. “Many of us players discovered our love for football at school, so we know first-hand what an important role teachers play when it comes to instilling a passion for the game and developing the skills we need,” Leah Williamson told us.

Demi continued, stating that, “from a very young age, I was playing football on the estate where I lived in Sunderland - I just loved it. I had a teacher at my primary School, Ian Williamson, and if it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t be a professional football player now. He put me through trials and in the boys’ team. He was so supportive and encouraging at every step. My advice for anybody at Primary School would be to ask your PE teacher to get together a local team and to fi nd out what opportunities there are for you in your area. There might be youth clubs that organise games, for example. One of the most important things is to believe in yourself and enjoy it. You’d be surprised at how far you can get by trying to make your dreams come true. Things can just snowball and before you know it, you’re living your dream.”

Football isn’t the only sport that can benefi t children though, Leah pointed out the importance of PE in general: “It’s so important to have time for PE in school. Football doesn’t just help us in terms of our fi tness, it teaches us some really vital life skills, such as how to interact with people who are older and younger than us and how to share with others. It’s also so helpful when it comes to our mental health.”

To help engage children in the tournament a range of free and exciting resources have been created to bring it to life. The UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 Schools Programme has been developed and tested by teachers and encourages teamwork, creativity and a love of sport. The activities, which cover subjects including PE, English, Maths, PSHE, Science and Art & Design, can be diff erentiated for pupils of varied abilities or with SEND and can be used in the classroom or at home.

Leah hopes these resoures will not just inspire this generation of future footballing stars, but many more to come: “We’d love as many pupils and schools as possible to enjoy the UEFA Women’s EURO this summer. The Schools Programme is packed full of resources to inspire pupils in the lead-up to the tournament and beyond. It’s so important to inspire the next generation of athletes, so I hope all schools get involved and provide a lasting legacy.”

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