OPINION: Dame Kelly says rule is’ barrier ‘to girls’ participation

by Richard Williams | August 6, 2021

A football league has been criticized by Olympian Dame Kelly Holmes after she held a vote that critics say “effectively forbid” girls from playing grassroots football if they are also on a top team.

The Kent Girls & Ladies Football League [KGLFL] has over 60 competing teams including Langton Green CSA, Tunbridge Wells Ladies FC, TW Forresters, Paddock Wood FC, Pembury Athletic Ladies and West Kent Girls FC.
Last month, the league voted to implement Football Association Rule 18 (M), which bars young players from participating in the KGLFL Sunday League, if they are also on a team that participates in the premier junior division. [JPL] who play on Saturday.
ON THE BALL: Rules apply to footballers who play for more than one club
Critics of the move say it comes despite the lack of similar rules for boys, who are free to play in the top flight and in the leagues.
Karlie Ransley, who started an online petition to oppose the move, said the move was “sexist” and “effectively banned” girls from grassroots football, and says it has already forced ten clubs, affecting 200 players.
She said: “When the governing bodies of world football desperately try to encourage girls to get into football, young girls in Kent are now forced to decide between playing with their friends or further developing their skills in a different league. .
“Why should they choose, when so many other girls in other leagues and boys too don’t?” The rule is sexist, unfair and takes away the freedom of choice for young girls in Kent. “
Her petition, which has now collected more than 4,000 signatures, caught the attention of Dame Kelly Holmes, the former Olympic middle distance gold medalist.
After signing the petition, Ms Holmes, who lives in Tonbridge, commented: ‘These rules don’t support talent. At a young age, girls in particular should have more opportunities to grow up.
“The decline of women’s sport is accentuated because of barriers. If we want future champions, we have to encourage young talent. “

Not discriminatory, says the league
The Kent Girls and Ladies Football League (KGLFL) denied that the change was “discriminatory” or constituted a “ban”.
A league spokesperson told The Times: “Rule 18 (M) is a standard FA rule that is already adopted by seven of Kent’s eight youth leagues.
“The implementation of this rule is aimed at preserving the integrity of league competition while further aligning the KGLFL with other youth leagues in the county.
“It’s important to stress that all youth football is co-ed, however the majority of these seven youth leagues are primarily aimed at boys.”
He added that the rule was passed by KGLFL member clubs following a democratic process and in accordance with FA rules.
The spokesperson continued that rule 18 (M) did not prohibit girls from playing in the KGLFL.
“Boys are allowed and allowed to play for KGLFL teams, just like girls in the various ‘boys’ leagues.
“It’s an FA rule. As a result, all “boys” and “girls” leagues are, in effect, “mixed” youth leagues.
He continued, “As a league, we appreciate the Times giving us the opportunity to provide clarity and balance in this situation, as it has not been shown to us by others.”
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