One in 10 female football fans in the South-East play football every day

More than seven in 10 women in the South-East play football at least a couple of times a week, with over one in 10 saying they play every day, according to research.

It emerged that three quarters agree there are more female role models in football now than when they were younger – with almost half (46 per cent) also highlighting that their visibility is the best thing to support the sport at grassroots level.

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Another 64 per cent said they were watching the UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 tournament.

The research, which was commissioned by Volkswagen before the tournament, also revealed that former Arsenal right-back and current pundit Alex Scott MBE has been voted the most inspirational figure in women’s football.

This comes as three aspiring young football fans have described the experience of a lifetime as they tookcentre stage at this year’s UEFA Women’s EURO 2022 as referee mascots on the pitch in Southampton.

One step closer

Lydia Sillence, Amelia Fear and Bella Maddern were among many keen young football fans who signed up to be referee mascots via their local Volkswagen retailer, Peter Cooper Southampton Shirley & Hedge End.

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All three girls walked with the referee on to the pitch and stood nearby while both national anthems took place.

The experience kicked off for the Southampton trio at the Norway vs Northern Ireland match at St. Mary’s Stadium, where Bella Maddern was the mascot and Norway stormed to a 4-1 win.

Lydia Sillence, 9, said: “I wanted to take part as a mascot at the Woman's Euros as I love football, and every step brings me closer to becoming a footballer especially like Alessia Russo - she is my idol.

“The best part of the day was being given the coin and walking out on the pitch before the match.”

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Amelia Fear was mascot at the Austria v Northern Ireland game, while Lydia Sillence took centre stage at Northern Ireland vs England.

The opportunity was opened to young female players aged 8-10, who had the chance to stand on the pitch and also received two additional tickets to watch the match.

Girls from across the country also took part, with a mascot at the 31 matches between July 6 and July 31.

Lifetime memories

Sarah Cox, Head of Marketing for Volkswagen UK said: “It was a privilege to host some of the country’s most passionate young football fans as referee mascots at UEFA Women’s EURO 2022.

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“As well as a hugely eventful tournament, we’re still buzzing from the stories we’ve heard from our mascots.

“We hope that the tournament continues to inspire young women to pursue their love for football, and we know our mascots will take away memories that will last a lifetime.”

Results from the poll also highlighted other big names in sport such as USA star Megan Rapinoe and vice-chairman of West Ham FC, Baroness Karren Brady.

Sarah Cox said: “Undoubtedly following the momentous victory of the Lionesses, the game will continue to grow and inspire women and girls for years to come. Of course, we’ll see this list of inspirational icons get bigger and bigger.”

England's heroic Lionesses made history at the weekend, with a 2-1 win against Germany at the Women’s EURO 2022 final at Wembley Stadium, attracting a record 87,192 spectators.

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