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Family Life: I GET MY KICKS OUT OF YOU... Footie is now the most popular female team sport in the country, according to the FA - which has just announced the creation of a new professional women's super league. JOANNE WELFORD looks at the lure of the beautiful game for the ladies.

Byline: JOANNE WELFORD

EMILY Toase always wanted to play football.

But growing up, she was confined to kick abouts with the boys - and usually shoved in goal when she expressed an interest in joining in at playtime.

PE lessons just didn't cover the sport for girls, she says, and local teams didn't exist.

It wasn't until she got to university at 19 that she discovered a women's team - and had no hesitation joining up.

Footie is the midfielder's passion and as well as playing, the Boro supporter works for the North Riding FA where her job is to help promote the beautiful game amongst women and girls.

No one would argue that women's footie is anywhere near as strong as the men's game - but that doesn't mean to say it isn't gaining in popularity or that the females in the family can't or aren't involved in the sport.

The FA know it - and they've just announced the creation of a new women's super league to help push the game further forward.

Emily is just one of thousands of women up and down the country who actively play the game.

Why does she do it?

"It is something I always wanted to try," says Emily, who works in Stokesley.

"I started at university at 19 and I've been playing for about eight years.

"I think more than anything, it is enjoyable because it is a team sport.

"I didn't play at school because there was no girls' team. I used to join in with the lads - and they usually made me go in goal!" she smiles.

She had to start from scratch learning the ins and outs of the game when it came to playing competitively, she says - but these days nutmegs, flick ons and sliding tackles are second nature.

She plays for Thirsk Falcons Ladies FC - and also leads on the Women & Girl's Programme at the Stokesley based North Riding FA as well as coaching at the York Girls' Centre of Excellence.

"Women's football as a sport isn't as strong as men's and isn't as well progressed," she says.

"But it is getting popular for girls and women. More and more players are coming in - but every team in our league struggles for players.

"Women come back after having babies, people are coming back to the sport and girls are playing a lot more in schools now."

Emily is hoping to get more women's five a side teams up and running, contact her on Emily.Toase@northridingfa.com for more information.

CAPTION(S):

ON THE BALL: Emily Toase at the North Riding County FA Headquarters, Stokesley Picture by ANDREW GRAY
COPYRIGHT 2009 MGN Ltd.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2009 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Mar 24, 2009
Words:440
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