More than 30 girls took part in a World Cup-themed football tournament thanks to Kick It Out’s Grassroots Activity Fund.

The Fund, which supports grassroots events and initiatives celebrating equality and diversity in football, was used to support West Essex FC SSE Wildcats’ event on Sunday 14 July as part of Kick It Out’s pledge to Women in Football’s #WhatIf campaign.

In October Kick It Out promised to support five grassroots events for women or girls alongside three other pledges:

  1. #WhatIf we supported 5 more #FansForDiversity events for women or girls
  2. #WhatIf we guaranteed 3 work placements for women that attend next year’s National Raise Your Game
  3. #WhatIf we supported the top 22 women’s clubs with campaigning activities during the 2018/19 season

West Essex Wildcats was set up in 2018 by FA-qualified coach Billie Graham. If offers girls aged five to 11 the chance to play football in a fun, safe and friendly environment regardless of ability.

“It was just to give the girls an opportunity I didn’t have. When I was younger playing football I would have played with the boys,” said Billie.

Billie was rewarded for her work with the Wildcats in May when she was chosen to present Manchester City Women with the FA Cup trophy at Wembley after their 3-0 win over West Ham in the final.

She has also taken part in several Kick It Out events, including a panel talk at the organisation’s Women’s Raise Your Game event in March.

The money from Kick It Out allowed the club to buy goals, banners, stickers and wristbands for the day, as well as high-vis jackets for the coaches.

“They gave it a really professional look, it was nice,” said Billie.

“It was so nice for the girls to shoot into proper goals instead of cones.”

The club will now be able to use the equipment for future events, thanks to the investment. And the Kick It Out branding and message helped make the event more diverse, says Billie.

“It’s a predominantly white area but there’s a few different cultures and because we advertised it as a Kick It Out event we had an increase of girls who are BME,” she said.

“They felt if Kick It Out sponsored it they can be involved.”

Eight teams and 32 girls took part in the tournament, which was held at Rolls Park Sports Ground in Chingford.

“One parent said it’s the best tournament she’s been to,” said Billie.

“It was amazing. Every single girl gave it their all and I couldn’t be prouder. Thanks to Kick It Out for making a difference.”