FA sets major trophy target for England women in next four years

FILE PHOTO: Soccer Football - Women's World Cup - Semi Final - England v United States - Groupama Stadium, Lyon, France - July 2, 2019 England manager Phil Neville talks to the players in a team huddle after the match REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

LONDON (Reuters) - A new four-year strategy for the future of women's soccer in England was launched by the Football Association (FA) on Monday targeting a major trophy for the Lionesses and ensuring young girls have equal access to playing the game.

The plan, 'Inspiring Positive Change', hopes to achieve eight objectives including equal access to soccer for primary school-aged girls, creating elite leagues and competitions for women and supporting the development of coaches and referees.

It also aims to grow commercial revenue to help the Women's Super League, which has attracted elite internationals such as Denmark's Pernille Harder, American Rose Lavelle, Australia's Sam Kerr and Netherlands' Vivianne Miedema in recent years.

England are set to host the women's European Championship in 2022, which the FA said will be "a catalyst for growth across every area" in the women's game.

The Lionesses have yet to win a major tournament, having reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2015 and 2019 and the final of the Euros in 1984 and 2009.

"When I and many of my team mates were girls, opportunities to play the game were few and far between," said England captain Steph Houghton. "So to see the breadth and scale of the FA's ambitions in the next four years is extremely exciting."

The FA plan also aims to focus on diversity by working with community and national inclusion advisory groups such as the FA Asian Women in Football Advisory Group and the FA Refugees and Asylum-Seekers.

"We want to ensure there is access and opportunity for every girl and woman to play, coach, spectate, officiate, manage or administer if they so wish," said director of women's football Sue Campbell.

"And the game to be truly representative of our society across all characteristics and social backgrounds."

(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Chennai; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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