UEFA Playmakers has brought the magic of Disney storytelling to over 3000 young girls in Wales since 2020, with Encanto being the latest film added to the programme.
Parents in Wales have reported* that UEFA and Disney’s first pan-European grassroots initiative for girls, UEFA Playmakers inspired by Disney, has inspired their daughters who participated in the programme to want to play football.
UEFA and Disney today announced a four-year extension of UEFA Playmakers to 2027. This pan-European participation initiative, powered by Disney stories, has already introduced over 3,072 of 5–8-year-old girls in Wales to football.
UEFA and Disney are proud to welcome Disney’s Academy-Award winning animated musical comedy Encanto, the latest film to join UEFA Playmakers, after Disney Pixar’s The Incredibles 2, Disney’s Frozen 2 and Disney’s Moana, all featuring a strong female lead.
Bethan Woolley, National Women & Girls Participation Manager, said: “We’re so pleased with the impact UEFA Playmakers has made in Wales. Delivered in 100 primary schools across Wales, UEFA Disney Playmakers provides girls the opportunity to experience football for the first time. Centred in a comfortable environment, this programme utilises the power of storytelling to help develop life and fundamental movement skills. We are excited to extend this programme, offering more schools the opportunity to deliver girls only opportunities.”
UEFA Playmakers has made a tangible impact in Wales. Succeeding in the aim of getting more girls playing through movement, play and storytelling and providing unique opportunities to girls as a safe, fun and engaging entry pathway into the game.
Inspired by academic research, UEFA Playmakers sessions are held in 100 centres in Wales by over 124 UEFA playmakers trained primary school teachers.
Across Europe, UEFA Playmakers sessions are held in 48 European national associations in over 3,800 locations. More than 73,000 girls have taken part in the programme that has trained over 5,200 UEFA Playmakers coaches.
Feedback* from girls, parents and coaches who take part in UEFA Playmakers demonstrates the tremendous positive impact of the programme in Wales.
The Playmakers story has only just begun, and UEFA will build on this momentum to ensure that girls are not only introduced to football but continue playing. UEFA Playmakers’ key ambition is to ensure each Playmakers centre has a clear pathway into football for player and coaches alike. To achieve this, UEFA will support national associations with dedicated experts providing mentor support and follow-on programmes.
In addition, UEFA will provide greater access to UEFA Playmakers content, enabling girls, families and teachers to enjoy UEFA Playmakers activities independently of the sessions.
“We’re really excited to see UEFA Playmakers expand over the next four years and to continue our partnership with Disney” said Nadine Kessler, UEFA Managing Director of Women’s Football. “Combining physical activity with the magic of Disney has proved a winning combination to introduce girls to football, get parents involved and give every girl the opportunity to experience the joy of our beautiful game. I am excited to see professional football players emerge in the future who can trace back their love for football back to their very first Playmakers session.”
Nicole Morse, Vice President Brand and Franchise Marketing, Disney EMEA, said: “UEFA Playmakers inspired by Disney has been such a brilliant collaboration that it was a no-brainer to continue the programme for another four years. It’s been so satisfying seeing our strong female characters and stories, such as Moana and Frozen, being such a force for good, inspiring families and children to get more active and to kick start a love of football. The feedback from girls, parents and coaches has been so positive and we look forward to engaging new audiences with our storytelling, starting with our new Encanto story going live in 47 national associations across Europe.”
Seven countries were part of the initial pilot phase in February 2020: Austria, Belgium, Norway, Poland, Romania, Scotland and Serbia.
In less than four years, an additional 40 countries have also joined the programme: Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia & Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czechia, Estonia, Finland, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Germany, Gibraltar, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Russia, San Marino, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, Wales.