Football stars Rachel Yankey and Katie Chapman will be the first women to play in a ground-breaking charity game monitored by Brunel researchers.
Brunel’s team of sports scientists will watch with the world as the two former Lionesses turn out at Soccer Aid’s top profile match for kids’ charity, Unicef.
Lead by Dr Laura Hills, they’re looking into mixed football for adults as part of a wider study backed by the Football Association (FA).
“We are trying to understand more about the benefits and challenges of mixed gender sport,” said Dr Hills, who teaches sport, health and exercise sciences.”
Rachel and Katie will play alongside other ex-professional players and celebrities in the England XI with two more women players to be added to the World XI.
“This will be an attention-grabbing match because it’s the first time women will play in a Soccer Aid match,” said Dr Hills who has successfully campaigned for a string of FA policy changes to make the sport more equal. “It is an exciting show of support for mixed gender football,” she added.
The five researchers will watch and interview players at the star-studded Stamford Bridge clash at Chelsea on Sunday June 16. The research into mixed gender football policy started in 2007, looking at children’s mixed football. Boys and girls can now play football together up to under-18 and the study is now investigating adult mixed football.
“So far, looking into mixed gender sport in children we have found girls and boys really enjoy playing together at recreational level,” said Dr Hills. “Both boys and girls benefit socially from the friendships they develop and there was evidence that they gained respect for each other as teammates.”
“It adds a new dimension to the game and increases respect for female sporting abilities.”
The England team will be jointly managed by Sam Allardyce and Good Morning Britain presenter Susanna Reid, Soccer Aid's first female manager.
They are up against the Soccer Aid World XI, run by Harry Redknapp and Susanna’s co-presenter, Piers Morgan. Robbie Keane, Michael Essien, Didier Drogba, Usain Bolt, Niall Horan, Ricardo Carvalho, Martin Compston, Danny O’Carroll, Billy Wingrove and Kem Cetinay have already signed up.
FA head of women's football Baroness Sue Campbell said: "These are exciting times for women's football as the FA strives to double participation in the women's game.”
Soccer Aid 2019, which will raise money for children around the world, takes place at Chelsea FC's Stamford Bridge on June 16 and will be broadcast live on ITV and ST. See here for more about Sport, health and exercise sciences at Brunel
Hayley Jarvis, Media Relations
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