The wonderful team of girls who play for Playas de Calvia. | Phoenix Media Mallorca

It seems quite timely to be sitting in the stands looking at a group of girls kicking footballs to each other on a pitch in Magalluf. But as anyone who has been supporting women’s football will know, it’s not been an overnight sensation, but a slow and steady build up to the point where it’s at now. Leon Blakely recognised a gap in Calvia almost three years ago and is part of the grassroots movement to encourage more girls to play the “beautiful game”.

Leon Blakely.

You are dedicating all of your spare time to this project, why?

Because I love football. Two years ago, there wasn't that much opportunity, especially in Calvia, for girls who wanted to start playing football but didn't want to play in boys’ teams. Here in Spain until they're 14, girls are expected to play with boys in mixed teams, and then as soon as they reach 14, they have to go into the amateur league, which is for women and girls because there is a lack of girls playing from the age of 14-19 to make their own age group categories. I want to build a legacy, I want to build something that's going to last a long time into the future. And I want to build something that is not just great for this club, but great for Calvia in general, and to be able to compete with the clubs in Palma, to make us strong enough to do that. It's okay having a team that's successful, but you need something behind it to feed into it, so you need to build a strong foundation to have players coming up through the stages year on year.

How is it going?

We started with four girls, which quickly grew to a regular group of 14. Initially we began with a football school type philosophy of just playing friendly games with similar aged girls with the objective being to build a young squad to learn and grow together. In year two we incorporated a small group of similar minded girls from CAP Mallorca (Chicas Al Poder) and their coach Maria Atting who had been using the same dynamic for a couple of years but had never made the step into “federated “ amateur women’s football. Our objective was then to introduce the whole squad to competitive football, even though they would be playing against women sometimes even double their age.During year 2 we also formed and federated a girls’ team of 10-14 year olds into the regional league of 7-a-side football. The idea of this team is to advance the adaptation process to competitive football at a younger age, so when the girls reach the right age the transition to the women’s league is less daunting. Now coming into year three, during the summer break we have added some more experience to the team in key positions and the word has got around about our project with new girls approaching us every week to join. This season we will have four teams competing in the “federated” leagues of various age groups with the fifth team well on the way to completing the squad. We are looking to recruit all the time, but in particular we are looking for girls aged 6 to 10 who want to play.

You have to have sponsors and supporters to make this growth happen.

Absolutely. This project would not be possible without the continuous support of the club “Playas de Calvia “ and its president Armando Perez. We are also fortunate to have some great sponsors: SYLKA carpets, Blackbeard's Beach Bar & Grill, O’Neils restaurant and Universal Nautic. We have a lot of followers on Instagram and it’s good local publicity for businesses so it’s working well. We are open to more sponsors, if they fit with our ethos of course. I have to give a special mention to our “repair shop” and amazing pair of professionals, the osteopaths and physiotherapists Joe Arrindell and Lorenzo Cordara from “Care4Health”. Thanks guys for helping our players to train safely and in peak condition.

Are there any differences between training boys and girls?

I would say that you can see the difference when they have other commitments. Girls will defer to their school work and studies if they have homework deadlines which I don't mind first of all, it's family, then it's studies, then it’s football! Whilst boys tend to be keener to play and not so bothered about the homework!

What do you look for in a potential player?

A competitive spirit, and there's a lot of girls with that. We can teach everything else. I’ve noticed that as boys play in teams at a young age they have more experience at working in a team, so we work on that, taking on the team mentality is important.

If a girl wanted to join the team how would she do it?

Firstly she should come along and watch or take part in a training session. We train twice a week from 5pm to 6pm. The subs and kit come to about €40 a month for ten months a year. They have a proper kit. The price is a little different depending on the age.

What’s the future of women’s football look like?

Exciting! We are only just getting started, and we are all loving the process and the results.

If you or your child have been inspired by the World Cup, then now is the time to find a team to play for. Contact Leon on 676 040 111 or to find out more.