Danielle Carter was responsible for putting smiles on the faces of the Luton Town girls’ team when she made a surprise appearance at their training session recently.
The purpose of the England and Arsenal footballer’s trip to Luton was to launch the SSE’s Participation Programme in partnership with The FA.
The 23-year-old, who has bagged two hat-tricks in two England appearances, said on her visit: “Its girls’ football week this week and it’s always nice to encourage girls of all ages to get involved but it’s also about the participation.
“The women’s game is coming on leaps and bounds.
“I think it’s only ever going to get better and hopefully there will be more people watching it and more people showing interest. I definitely think the future is bright.”
The new participation programme aims to create new opportunities and provides funding for existing football clubs who wish to create girls-only coaching sessions and build new, competitive playing squads for girls between the ages of five and 14.
Carter acknowledged that there are many more opportunities now for the younger generation and more influential female players to look up to, compared to when she first started her career at Leighton Orient.
“It’s the case that you can make a job and a profession out of women’s football now – when I was younger that was never the case, so it’s amazing that the transition between then and now is growing and growing.
“When I was growing up there wasn’t as many role models whereas now there’s a lot of people that you can actually look up to and aspire to be.”
As well as giving an extra special training session on Tuesday, Carter, who scored the winning goal for Arsenal in the FA Cup at Wembley earlier this season, brought the famous trophy with her for the youngsters to get their hands on, and gave them some good advice for the future.
“The standards have definitely increased with foreign players coming over to play in the English league which didn’t happen before, because a lot of players used to go America to play at a better standard,” Carter added.
“It’s all about dedication and commitment. Put your all into it and with all the hard work that you put in, you’re going to reap the benefits, so keep being consistent and diligent with everything.”
SSE’s Participation Programme is creating opportunities for girls to play football across the UK. To find out how you can get involved, visit www.sse.co.uk/girls-united.