SSE Wildcats | A fun way to encourage girls into football

*This is a collaborative post with the FA and Britmums. Please see my disclosure policy for details. 

After the success of watching the SSE Women's FA Cup Final at Wembley earlier this year and then Sunderland AFC Ladies play in June, we decided it was time for Heidi to try it for herself. We signed up for a session with SSE Wildcats in Killingworth. There are over 200 clubs across the UK where girls can play football (find your nearest session and book online here). Aimed at girls aged 5-11 years, the sessions run throughout spring and summer and are fun and engaging with fully qualified coaches. Our session in Killingworth was only £3 (payable on the day) for 2 hours and the coach was happy for me to leave Heidi there and collect her at the end if needed. Like most parents though, I stayed for the full session. 

The sessions in Killingworth take place at Killingworth Young People's Club, Garth 21 - just 2 minutes away from Morrisons. It was super easy to find and I didn't get lost. There's plenty of free parking and a cafe on site which pleased the boys!

The sessions run from 10am - 12noon on Sundays and I was surprised at just how many girls joined in. There were 20 altogether - some had obviously been playing for a while and for others like Heidi, it was their first time. What I loved about the session was just how welcoming everyone was. The coach took the time to introduce Heidi to some other girls on arrival who immediately took her under their wing. Heidi can sometimes act a little shy but she wasn't at all on this occasion and went running off to the field with her new friends without looking back to play before the session started.

The sessions started with a jog around the pitch and then a few fun group games including football golf and a game that was kind of like British Bull Dog only the girls had to try and dribble a football from one side of the pitch to the other whilst avoiding the defenders on the other team who would try and kick the ball away from them. If they were caught out, they had to join that team until it was last (wo)man standing. These games weren't competitive and the main aim was most definitely fun and to encourage confidence in dribbling a football.

"Have Fun, Make Friends, Play Football"

After the big group sessions, the girls split into small groups based on age/ability. Heidi was in the beginners group with 4 other girls. Every group had their own coach and this was a chance for the girls to work on specific skills through smaller games and activities. How fantastic that Heidi was able to have this practically one on one time with a professional coach!

Every now and then, the coach would give the girls a break and encourage them to take a drink from their water bottles. Heidi took a quick drink and then ran straight back to join back in. She was very enthusiastic and didn't want to miss a second which was lovely to see.

The session ended with a big game of 10 vs 10 and the coaches joined in too so they could give top tips and encourage which I think is better than shouting from the sidelines. Before we knew it, two hours had passed.

So what did we think about our SSE Wildcats Session? In all honesty, we loved it. There was never any pressure, it was a real mix of all ages and abilities and the girls and coaches were all super welcoming and really went out of their way to ensure Heidi was made to feel welcome (just as an FYI they didn't know we were blogging about the session and were the same with all newbies). Heidi wasn't pushed physically but after two hours of running around she did feel tired which I can only see as a good thing. Most importantly though, Heidi had fun which I think is the most important thing.

Heidi has been begging me to take her back to SSE Wildcats over the summer and I feel bad that my diary has already been filled with holidays/days out and commitments otherwise I definitely would. I will be looking into signing Heidi up to regular classes next year  for sure and will make it a priority. 10am-12noon on a Sunday isn't too intrusive and I like that parents can leave kids there if needed.

The SSE Wildcats Slogan is 'Have Fun, Make Friends, Play Football' and I really think this sums up Heidi's session perfectly.

SSE Wildcats is part of the FA initiative to double girls' participation in football by 2020. I think that so far it's working and the session definitely exceeded both my own and Heidi's expectations. There were all sorts of girls joining in - quiet girls, athletic girls, feisty girls......but they all got on togehter very well and I loved how when one of them scored a goal, both teams ran over the congratulate and hi-five. There was even a squad group hug at the end of the session.

If you're looking for a way to encourage your daughter to try something new, make new friends and have fun, I would definitely recommend trying a SSE Wildcats session for yourself.



  1. Such a great introduction to football and what a great price.

  2. I think it's great that there's plenty of chances for girls to be able to try out football and other normally male dominated sports x

  3. haha great action shot of Heidi kicking at goals! The sessions looks well attended and so nice that they were welcoming and helpful. It's a great idea for new blood to the sport!

  4. Looks like she had an amazing time and what lovely photos you've got of your session too! It looks such a busy session and so well thought out too! Will she be going back?

  5. Sounds like a wonderful experience. I love that the coach made sure newbies feel welcome.

  6. Oh two hours is brilliant - our session was only an hour - and it flew by. I hope it continues because that's a good number of girls and who knows, maybe there's a future England player in there too...! It looks loads of fun, I love the structure to the sessions too.


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