Festival of football event takes Norwich by storm

NORWICH, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Girls take part in the FA Girls' Football Festival on June 18, 2014 in

NORWICH, ENGLAND - JUNE 18: Girls take part in the FA Girls' Football Festival on June 18, 2014 in Norwich, England. (Photo by Stephen Pond - The FA/The FA via Getty Images) - Credit: The FA via Getty Images

Nearly 350 girls from local schools got into the festival mood as the FA Girls' Football Festival visited Norwich.

The event, which is held in association with Continental Tyres, saw 347 girls from local schools gather at the Football Development Centre in Bowthorpe to take part in the free programme aimed at increasing and retaining participation in the game. The event was organised through the support of the Norfolk County FA.

The participants, aged 5-16 years old, were accompanied by Notts County Ladies players Katie Holtham and Caitlin Friend, who took part in activities, including a question and answer session, giving the girls an insight into what it's like to be an FA WSL footballer.

The format of the day was fun and active, combining football, lifestyle and music. FA approved coaches led the festival and activities included skills and drills, interactive games (target shoot, speed cage, batak boards) and mini matches inside an inflatable pitch.

Referee ambassadors Mary Harmer and Natasha Wilson delivered a refereeing workshop and girls also had the chance to pose with the FA WSL trophy, the Cyprus Cup and the FA WSL Continental Cup. In addition, the FA WSL mascot Berry the Bear was in attendance as well as face painting and hair braiding to add to the festival atmosphere.

Speaking about the day Holtham said: 'It's great that Continental put these festivals on for the girls to have that opportunity and with the World Cup on the telly three times a day the girls can watch it and show an interest and then they have the opportunity to come to festivals like this and that can inspire them to get into the game.'

Harmer explained how the event helps encourage girls to get involved in refereeing and football.

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She said: 'It's a great opportunity for girls to come with their friends and have fun in a great environment and to just really get involved in football and try new things. Some girls might not have thought about refereeing in football but there are a lot of opportunities for females to progress in the game and days like this are excellent in sparking there interest.'

Anyone interested in getting involved in football can contact Norfolk County FA or visit www.norfolkfa.com

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