Women’s football in Wales has grown by 50% since 2016, according to football bosses.
The FAW Trust, who introduced the Huddle initiative to encourage girls to get into football last year, has reported that a record 8,600 women and girls are now signed up to football clubs across Wales,
Huddle is aimed at girls aged between five and 12 and attracted more than 450 girls during the first phase in 2019. There are 23 Huddle centres across Wales, including one at the University of South Wales Sport Park in Treforest.
The initiative is set to be expanded with an expected 20 new sites getting on board with the scheme, which will assist in reaching the ambitious target to get 20,000 girls playing football in Wales by 2024.
Caerphilly-born Natasha Harding and her international team-mates have offered their support to continue the growth of the women’s game in Wales.
Caroline Spanton – who was recently appointed interim chief executive of the FAW Trust following Neil Ward’s departure – said: “Research tells us that girls are more likely to be less confident than boys when joining a sports club.
So Huddle is designed to give girls the opportunity to develop their skills and their confidence in a fun and sociable environment with their friends.”
Harding won her 82nd cap in the 2-0 friendly win over Estonia on Friday, March 6.
Harding missed out on Wales’ trip to Belfast for their Euro 2021 qualifier against Northern Ireland in November but returned to the squad ahead of the game.
Speaking in the week ahead of the match, and one in which Harding celebrated her 31st birthday, manager Jayne Ludlow said: “It’s great to have one of our most experienced players back, and obviously our vice captain.
“She makes a huge difference to the environment that’s created throughout the camp and obviously the performance levels we can put on the pitch when she’s available: she lifts those for us.”