Football conference celebrates the women’s game

An event showcasing the latest scientific research and best practices in women’s football takes place at Staffordshire University next month

A poster for the conference featuring a woman kickng a football

The one-day event takes place on Monday 11 December

Currently, less than 1% of research spending on football is on women, despite the elite women’s game having grown in popularity in recent years. For this reason, it is important to continue high-level research on women’s football.

Dr Jacky Forsyth, Associate Professor of Exercise Physiology

On Monday 11 December, Football - A Woman's Game will see researchers and practitioners from a range of disciplines share their experiences and knowledge.

Speakers will cover a wide variety of topics, including sport psychology in the Women’s Super League, menstrual cycle and performance, why we need women’s football boots, and stadium attendance in elite women’s football.

The conference has been organised by Dr Jacky Forsyth, Associate Professor of Exercise Physiology at Staffordshire University. She explained: “For continued success in women’s football, we need to both share our best practices, and apply cutting-edge, evidence-based, scientific information to maximise the performance potential of the footballer.

“This event is essential for anyone involved in women’s football, including coaches, physiotherapists, nutritionists, sports scientists, coach developers, technical directors, general managers, governing body personnel and club owners from grassroots to elite level, as well as the footballers themselves.”

The conference is supported and funded by Erasmus+ Sport, as part of the European Women in Sport (E-WinS) project which brings together nine universities and sports organisations to explore women’s and girls’ football across six countries.

As part of this, academics from Staffordshire University led a study involving more than 1,100 players, coaches and managers from grassroots to elite level clubs in Bulgaria, England, Finland, France, Poland and Spain. The research focussed on financial aspects, such as sponsorship, media coverage and visibility of women’s football, as well as performance aspects, which includes information on the menstrual cycle, hormonal contraception, pregnancy and childcare.

Based on the findings Dr Forsyth and colleagues have created educational tools and a database to share best practices and are supporting local clubs – including Stoke City FC Women, Port Vale FC Women and the University’s own women’s team – with their development.

Dr Forsyth’s research focuses on the key influences which impact women in sport and exercise. She is co-founder of the Women in Sport and Exercise Academic Network (WiSEAN), co-author of the book, The Exercising Female: Science and its Application, and is co-editor of a new book, coming out in 2025, Women’s Football: From Science to High Performance.

Dr Forsyth added: “Currently, less than 1% of research spending on football is on women, despite the elite women’s game having grown in popularity in recent years. For this reason, it is important to continue high-level research on women’s football and events like this are an integral part of levelling the playing field.”

‘Football – A Woman’s Game’ takes place on Monday 11 Dec 2023, 9am to 5pm, at Staffordshire University’s Science Centre, Leek Road, Stoke-on-Trent, ST4 2DF – see the full agenda.

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