Baroness Sue Campbell sets out vision for women’s football
Baroness Sue Campbell appeared on BBC Radio Four Woman’s Hour on Wednesday (27 January) to set out her vision for the game in her new role as The FA’s head of women’s football, which was announced earlier this month.
Campbell has joined The FA following her decade long spell as the Chair of UK Sport between 2003-2013, during which time she oversaw a significant rise in British medals at the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Kelly Simmons, The FA’s Director of Participation and Development, has labelled the appointment as a ‘massive statement’ for the women’s game.
Campbell told BBC Woman’s Hour she was eager to build on the success and coverage that women’s football has had in the past year: “The women’s game is already doing well, participation is growing and I think everyone’s aware that the England team did exceptionally well at the World Cup.
“But what I think the chief executive (Martin Glenn) and the organisation are looking for now is a real step-up for women’s sport. I guess because we were successful in improving the Olympic and Paralympic results for London 2012, they believe that putting me in this role will give them a chance of lifting the women’s game to a new level, which is of course what I’m hoping to be able to do.”
Campbell does not intend to concentrate solely on the elite side of the game and she was quick to stress her desire to oversee an improvement in women’s football at all levels.
“My role is really to look right from the very beginning, from school, from grassroots clubs, through the competitive structures to the league, to the Women’s Super League (WSL) and to the England team.
“Whilst there’s lots of good practice in all those areas, it’s a bit like a patchwork quilt. My job is to review all of that and to develop a new, dynamic national strategy that improves both participation, talent pathways and the elite performance.”
Participation at school and grassroots level is something that Campbell is eager to address: “We’re seeing a massive decline in girls’ activity levels and there is no doubt that the less active girls are, both physically, emotionally and socially – the more they miss out. So it’s really important that we do encourage schools to provide high-quality physical education and school sport.
“At the most, youngsters get between two and three hours per week of physical education. In terms of what the Chief Medical Officer wants every child to do, which is 60 minutes of physical activity per day, it means we’ve got a massive job to do support schools but also to build other opportunities around them.”
Whilst a clear development strategy is vital for women’s football on the pitch, a significant aspect of Campbell’s role will focus on enhancing coverage of the game to ensure that women professionals earn a fair salary.
“One of the challenges is how you sustain the wages of players against the income you generate. However, I do think the women’s game is growing in popularity; I will be looking for greater commercial support and I am trying to increase the media coverage.
“As both the commercial support and the media coverage increase, clearly the women at the top of the game should be in a position to earn a proper living wage.
“What I am keen to do is make sure that we take the women’s game out of the shadow of the men’s game. I want it to have its own distinct personality, its own distinct vision and its own very clear brand, rather than always just being compared with the men’s game.”
The full interview with Baroness Sue Campbell can be found here.