Southend United Community visited Beauchamps High School along with Blues players Simon Cox and Michael Kightly as part of the Premier League Girls Programme.
Southend United Community and Educational Trusts project PL Girls is now into its second year of implementation and provides high quality opportunities for women and girls aged 11 years + to play football on a weekly basis, especially those who are new to football and not already participating in a local club.
The project develops skills and confidence of women & girls and supports females to progress as a player, coach and or an official and provides an enjoyable space for girls to engage and mix socially on their football journey and ensures continued interest and participation in sport which increases their overall well-being.
During year 1, the project has increased football participation of hundreds of women and girls aged 11+ in South Essex by providing opportunities to engage in football at 11 satellite venues; participate in local, regional and national competitions; volunteering, coaching and refereeing qualifications; offered talent pathways to football teams; and pathways into football, training, education and employment.
During the football programme, participants are engaged to take on small jobs, such as organising participants in teams, taking responsibility of equipment and arranging fixtures at their own schools giving them a degree of ownership and developing leadership skills.
Simon Cox believes the England Women's team have encouraged more girls to start participating in football, and the striker expressed his thoughts on how great the programme is for girls who aspire to become a footballer.
"What the community boys and girls are doing when they that go out and see the schools around the area is great.
"I believe the England Women's team have been a major part of why this programme is recieving so much attention.
"The team have been doing some really good stuff in the last few years and you can see that it's working as today we've got these girls that have come out to play football, and they are having fun."
Cox is counting on the FA as they aim to double women's participation in football by 2020 and with the women's game being such a huge growth area, the programme is most certainly ahead of it's target.
"I was speaking to the girls coach and she was saying that she takes them all over Essex and puts them into football tournaments, just to see how well they do.
"Eventually if you pick out three or four girls one year and they progress to a higher level, then next time you pick four or five girls, it shows that there is progression and growth and that's what the FA are aiming to do."
Girls that have shown commitment and a pure passion for football are also given the opportunity to gain qualifications, ie junior football leaders’ courses and referee courses. Our Community Sports Club have provided sustainable pathways for playing, coaching and refereeing.
The trust also works closely with Essex FA, and Essex County girls Football league, Schools and Active Essex to ensure coordinated activities to ensure maximum impact on the girls participating in this programme in South Essex.
Ellie’s Dad (one of our participants in year 1) said “What Southend United has been able to give Ellie on this programme is amazing, not only have they progressed and developed her football skills, but she is a completely different person from a year ago.
"She is happy, confident and has a sense of achievement as well as wanting to be a better person and drive towards something better for the future. I cannot wait to see what the next years has in store for Ellie; they already have her booked on a referee course and level 1 in coaching football as soon as the new year starts.
"I couldn’t be more proud of her and I’m excited to see what she can achieve with Southend United behind her. The Premiere League Girls programme is perfect for girls like Ellie, that need that push in the right direction!”."
Later today you can tune into BBC Look East at 6:30pm to see the full feature.