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West Ham football player sets up scheme to encourage girls to play the game

PUBLISHED: 07:00 15 August 2016 | UPDATED: 07:21 15 August 2016

RRC wk32 2016  girls can play

RRC wk32 2016 girls can play

Carmel Jane Photography Ltd

A West Ham player who is disappointed by the lack of football opportunities for girls has set up a scheme to help tackle the problem.

Kat Clifton, 25, of Harold Wood, wants to make the sport accessible and, fuelled by an Active Essex grant, has set up She Can Play – an organisation that pairs girls in the borough with teams and trains them.

“There are quite a few girls who want to play but they can’t get into a team,” she said. “It was really difficult when I was younger and it was really hard to find a girls team – I just had to play against the boys in the playground. In the end I had to travel to Barking to get into a team.”

Kat said girls deserve more support in football and you just have to look at the women’s World Cup results to see they are great at it.

The women’s side came third, putting the England’s men’s side to shame. You couldn’t do it for a living back then, but now the Super League players can do it as a job,” she added.

“The pay is nothing like in the men’s, but you get enough to get by.

“Give it five to 10 years and women will get there.”

She Can Play will act as a stepping stone, linking young players with clubs and developing their technique with additional coaching sessions.

The organisation will also run fun sessions aimed at mothers who want to get back into sport and for those who have never played before.

Kat, who works as a PE teacher, has been playing for West Ham since she was 11.

She added: “I just really enjoy playing. I love being in a team environment and want to give back to other girls.”

facebook.com/SheCanPlayUK

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