A partnership to make a difference
Earlier today I had the pleasure of announcing a new four year title sponsorship deal for the largest cup competition in women’s football, the Women’s FA Cup. But the partnership to sponsor The SSE Women’s FA Cup, as it will now be known, is about so much more than just sponsoring a cup competition.
We have a long and proud tradition of supporting sport in the UK, including last year’s Commonwealth Games. But this latest partnership is about sending a clear message that the barriers that have limited opportunities in the past should be removed so that women and girls can reach their full potential in both sport and business.
Just 30% of the people employed in SSE are women and that needs to change in our company and elsewhere if we are to have an economy and a society that succeeds in the long term. We’re trying to deliver change in SSE, and through this sponsorship, we’re aiming to contribute to change across society as a whole.
SSE is entering this partnership with one simple ambition - to make a difference to the future of women’s football.
The growth of women’s football has been phenomenal over the last few years, but the FA’s research shows that there’s thousands more girls wanting to take part. They’re put off by a lack of girls-only football setups. At the moment just 3% of mini soccer teams are girls only.
SSE is going to help change that. Our investment with The FA will help break down the barriers stopping young girls getting involved in sport and exercise. We will help to increase girls-only provision so thousands more school girls have more access and opportunities to take part and enjoy all that football and exercise has to offer.
As part of our support for the Commonwealth Games, we set up the SSE Next Generation scheme under which 100 young athletes receive funding, mentoring, recognition and support from a corporate sponsor at the time they need it most.
I met one of them during the official launch of this partnership at Wembley – Georgia Stanway. Georgia is a fantastic example to all young girls who want to play football. We’re helping her make that transition from hobby to potential career. But we want to help more girls like Georgia take part in football; for fun, for fitness and hopefully, for some, to become future stars.
The growth of the women’s game, combined with the fact the final will be held at Wembley for the first time later this year, makes it an exciting time for women’s sport and I’m truly delighted that SSE can play a part in supporting it going from strength to strength.