Young Wigan footballer wants equality for girls' football in lockdown

A nine-year-old Wigan footballer has launched a campaign which calls for equality for girls’ football during lockdown.
Ellie Duffy pictured with proud mum MichelleEllie Duffy pictured with proud mum Michelle
Ellie Duffy pictured with proud mum Michelle

Ellie Duffy, who plays for Wigan Athletic and Euxton Girls, has started an online petition to ask the FA to allow under 9s to under 16s girls’ football academies to continue.

Ellie’s petition calls for “the same opportunities” for talented girls as boys and has had more than 800 signatures.

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She has been sprung into action after the FA confirmed boys ‘elite’ academies for under-16s are allowed to continue during England’s four-week lockdown, but girls’ regional training centres (RTCs) have been stopped. New rules have meant grassroots football clubs aren’t allowed to play and youth sport is now only permitted in school.

However, elite sport can continue behind closed doors and boys’ football academies fall into this.

The FA said: “The Barclays FA WSL Academies and FA Girls Regional Talent Clubs are to be suspended during this period as their resources - including finances and personnel - do not meet the necessary ‘elite’ protocols required.”

Ellie, from Standish, said she was told about the situation by mum, Michelle, who explained the new rules to her and brother William.

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Ellie who attends St Wilfrid’s Primary School in Standish, said: “I was furious when I realised that boys my age can carry on training but the girls can’t.

“This is very unfair and I understand that training must be safe due to Covid, but if they are all following the same rules for training and sometimes even using the same training facility, then both boys and girls should be allowed to continue.”

Before lockdown, Ellie said that she was due to attend trials at two RTCs but they were all cancelled.

Some are postponed and some are doing satellite sessions which she attended, but they have stopped now.

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She added: “I would like The FA to reconsider its decision about the RTCs not being able to train during lockdown and allow them to continue similar to the boys academies.

“I think this is the wrong message to send to girls and to the rest of the country about how talented football girls are seen that they are not as valued for their talent as boys