Women's Football Female Strategy

Female Talent Pathway

England Football has confirmed the first 60 Girls’ Emerging Talent Centre [ETC] licences have been allocated, which will see the number of young female players engaged in FA programmes across the country rise from 1722 to over 4200 by the end of the 2023-24 season. 

These numbers also present a 59 per cent increase based on the actual number of FA programmes, going from 39 programmes to 60, enabling greater access for players across the country. 

Thanks to funding from the Premier League, we recently unveiled plans to grow its existing talent programme for women’s football with the introduction of up to 70 Girls’ ETCs, aiming to sustain its future and provide a wider and more diverse talent pool for the game. Today’s announcement shows positive progress has already been made.

Girls' Emerging Talent CentreThe national network of girls’ ETCs will be aimed at girls aged eight to 16. The new centres will operate for at least 30 weeks per season and will commence from September 2022. The centres will be underpinned by five key areas: 

1. Better accessibility
2. More inclusivity
3. Reducing the impact of early selection
4. More focused investment
5. Providing more appropriate challenges

Earlier this year, the Premier League confirmed it will provide £1.75m per annum for the next three years to support the new network of Girls’ ETCs. 

Kay Cossington, the FA’s Head of Women’s Technical, said: “Our key aims are to provide greater access for more players whilst diversifying the talent pool, and I'm delighted that the early signs show that we are well on track to achieve those aims. 

“We're extremely excited to be working alongside such a diverse group of clubs and organisations, which will help us identify players for the future, including future England Lionesses.” 

Premier League chief football officer Tony Scholes added: “The Premier League and our clubs are committed to developing football at all levels and it is important that girls across the country have greater opportunities to progress in the game. 

“We're pleased to have provided the funding which will significantly enhance the pathways for young female footballers, and it is great to see the first licences allocated for the new Emerging Talent Centres.”

Licences were allocated on a regional basis allowing for greater geographical coverage, whilst providing greater accessibility for a larger pool of players. 

Cheshire FA are delighted that Crewe Alexandra and Chester FC have both been awarded the license in Cheshire.

A breakdown of confirmed licences in the North west can be found below:

North West 
Blackburn Rovers Ladies FC
Blackpool FC Community Trust
Chester FC Community Trust
Crewe Alexandra in the Community 
Everton Women FC
Liverpool FC Women
Manchester City in the Community 
Manchester United Foundation 
Preston North End Community and Education Trust

In addition to those licences already confirmed, the FA will be staging a second invitational application window for eligible clubs and organisations in targeted areas to further support the aim of greater geographical coverage and access. 

For more information regarding the Girls’ ETC programme, please contact playerpathway@thefa.com 

For more on Discover My Talent, which provides an opportunity for young female players to showcase their ability, click here



Have you got an amazing young female player on your team? Has she got what it takes to grow from grassroots to greatness? Could she become a Lioness of the future? 

Yes? Here’s your chance to refer a player and she could take her first step on the Women’s England Talent Pathway. The Referral Window is open from the 9 January to 15 March 2023 so now’s the perfect time to act. Last season we saw over 2000 unique referrals and a host of talent that we wouldn’t have discovered without your support.

We need coaches and clubs, volunteers, match officials, teachers or anyone else working with young players who see potential to put forward your players.

We’re looking for players who are eligible to represent England, who are born between 2006 and 2010, this could even include players who excel in other sports who may have transferable skills! We want to give them the opportunity to access our inclusive and accessible pathway and importantly they will continue to play in their existing environment, wherever that may be.

Our aim is to ensure we supply England teams with the quality and depth of players to enable England to win a major tournament. In pursuit of this ambition, we’re leaving no stone unturned when it comes to finding future talent across England. 

So, it’s over to you. If you have a player in mind, all you need to do is refer her by filling in our Player Referral Form and we will do the rest.

Check out what our Future Lioness Characteristics look like and what we are looking for here:


Discover My Talent England