Skip to main content
Published 09 February 2023 4 min read
Grassroots Football

'Maximise their talent'

Written by:

Nicholas Veevers

England Football's new girls' player pathway put into practice at Arsenal's Emerging Talent Centre

“I want to play at Wembley and at Arsenal’s Stadium and be a Lioness.”

Those were the words and ambitions of ten-year-old Maya, and no doubt the majority of the girls in attendance at the new Emerging Talent Centre within the Arsenal Women’s academy earlier this week.

Taking place less than 48 hours before a revamp of England Football girls’ player pathway was launched, over 60 girls were taking part in a session staged at the University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield.

“I like to play so much, it’s a team game and you can be good at lots of different things,” added another attendee Niyah, who lists Leo Messi and Sam Kerr as her favourite players.

“It’s about being skilful, being fast and I want to be really good at football in lots of different ways. I just enjoy being here.”

Taking place twice a week, local girls from U8s through to U11s can attend and receive professional coaching to complement their recreational football.

And it’s hoped that the new approach, which will see up to 70 ETCs opened across England to cater for players aged 8-16 who’ve shown footballing potential, can ultimately benefit the pool of players for our England teams.
Arsenal Women stage two ETC sessions a week
Arsenal Women stage two ETC sessions a week
09 Feb 2023 2:19

Arsenal's EGC plays into England's new women's and girls' player pathway plan

Hear from some of the coaches and players at Arsenal's Emerging Talent Centre

With the geographical spread meaning that no girl should be more than an hour away from an ETC wherever she lives in England, the prospect of more talented players being able to flourish and emerge out of the pathway to perform at first-team domestic and international level.

“The idea of it is that we’re trying to make the bottom of the pathway bigger to get more girls access to it,” explained James Honeyman, Arsenal Women’s academy manager.

“So we’re working together to map out the country and give more girls the chance to come through and also find more talent that might be in the cities or rural areas and work together to increase the amount of talent that we have.

“The new ETC allows more girls into our pathway and to do that across the whole country – there’s more accessibility for everybody to maximise their talent.

“It’s allowing more access to elite coaching earlier to have an opportunity to go to a safe environment where they can enjoy football, develop key skills of the game and see where it takes them.

“That will help develop better England development teams and in turn the senior team, if we can give them a place to come and express themselves then we’ll create more creative players in the future who can go on to perform for England on the biggest stage.”
60 girls were in attendance at Arsenal's Emerging Talent Centre this week
60 girls were in attendance at Arsenal's Emerging Talent Centre this week
The new pathway also allows young players the opportunity to continue their own journey at a recreational level alongside the ETCs, whether that be through grassroots teams, schools or playing with friends.

“We run an U9s, U10s and U11s here, they train on a Tuesday for an hour and a half and on Friday for an hour and a half,” added Honeyman.

“They don’t need to come here two nights a week, they can still play with their friends and do whatever is the right challenge for them – we want players to love the game as well as players who are going to make it at the highest level.

“By delivering these programmes, we can allow players to play with their grassroots teams so they can get the right contact time for them.

“Loads of girls are looking to get into the game and we’re seeing increased numbers in schools and grassroots or applying to come into this environment.”