How PL Changemakers helps girls achieve their dreams

23 Jun 2023

Premier League programme is helping girls and young women to build confidence and leadership skills

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Whether it’s the football pitch, the dugout, the classroom, or even the courtroom where their dreams lie, the Premier League Changemakers programme is opening doors for the next generation of young women and girls to realise their potential.

Premier League Changemakers supports young women by inspiring, empowering and equipping them with the tools to develop a positive attitude towards leadership.

See: PL Changemakers has helped me choose my career

Running alongside their studies, PL Changemakers, which is delivered through Premier League Inspires and Premier League Kicks, has ensured that more than 1,200 young women and girls have been able to access leadership training as well as sports and physical activities since its launch in 2021.

A special PL Changemakers event was recently held at Leicester City’s King Power Stadium, where over 60 girls and young women attended to discuss gender equality and opportunities within football.

Attendees took part in a series of interactive workshops and skills sessions to support the development of key employability and leadership skills.

They also heard from inspirational women in football including Bristol City Women’s forward Shania Hayles, Leicester City in the Community coach, Zahra Zahid, Brentford’s non-executive director, Preeti Shetty, and Women’s Super League match official, Emily Heaslip.

Being able to support others

One attendee was Areej, who is studying towards her T Levels in childcare and education. Through Premier League Changemakers and the guidance of Stoke City Community Trust, Areej says she has grown as a person.

“I’m a naturally confident person,” said Areej, pictured below. "But the biggest thing I’ve taken from Premier League Changemakers is to step back.”

“I’m the spokesperson for my course, however, I’ve noticed my quiet friends have opened up a lot more knowing they can speak freely without being judged.

“I’d like to think I’ve been able to help them with that too, as I know that I am relied upon, and I like that now.”

PL Changemakers, Areej

Areej is aiming to become a teacher and believes Premier League Changemakers has set her towards that path.

“All I’ve wanted to do is help young people and Changemakers was the perfect opportunity to do that," she says. “One of the things Stoke City and Changemakers has taught us is about mental health.

"It’s something that we struggled to talk about. However, it’s one of the things the course has encouraged, and that’s key to young people now.

"The world is evolving and Changemakers has given me the skills to help young people.”

An inspiring event for all

Another attendee, Lauren, was inspired by seeing people from minority backgrounds represented at the event, including Zahra Zahid. 

Born in Zimbabwe before coming to England, Zahid has progressed through the Premier League Kicks programme at Leicester from participant and thrived to the point of becoming a coach.  

“When Zahra Zahid was talking it felt real and relatable,” said Lauren, pictured below. “You could relate to her background.”

PL Changemakers Lauren

Each workshop group was named after an inspirational figure in the women’s game and that, as well as the presence of the PGMOL’s first women’s football game director Bibiana Steinhaus-Webb, was an added bonus for Lauren.

“I play as a goalkeeper, so being in Mary Earps's group was special and also seeing the referees," added Lauren. "[Steinhaus-Webb] being German like me, and seeing they can make it in the industry, shows it’s not just for certain people, everyone can do it.”

Making a huge difference

There are few who have benefitted more from Premier League Changemakers than Lexi, who was involved in the programme with Leicester in the Community.

Lexi had been shy and low in both confidence and self-esteem, finding it difficult to communicate her feelings before being referred on to the Premier League Changemakers programme by her head of year.

PL Changemakers Lexi

The programme, coupled with her taking part in the Premier League Inspires Challenge, has helped Lexi develop into a leader for other participants. She’s now able to overcome her nervousness to speak in large groups and share her feelings and opinions, something she did at the Premier League Changemakers event.

“A few months ago I didn’t think I’d be here,” Lexi said proudly while alongside her Premier League Inspires coach Paige (both pictured above). “Speaking to all of these different people, I’d have never thought it would have happened."

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