UEFA is celebrating footballing dads and their daughters in a new ad campaign that launched alongside the first matches in the men’s Europa League last week.
The spots feature some of the continent’s top footballing families – including the Dalgleishs and the Baresis – with a message calling on dads to encourage their daughters to take up the sport.
Since the ads launched, the featured stars, who also include former Premier League icons Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer, have found their social media feeds flooded by other fathers proudly sharing images of football-playing daughters.
This follows last week’s UEFA research revealing a 29% increase in the number of women playing football across Europe in the past year.
The same study also found the number of people considering women’s football to be “cool” more than doubled in the past 12 months.
The ads’ creative approach marks a subtle evolution in the UEFA's Together #WePlayStrong campaign promoting women’s football.
Peter Willems, UEFA head of marketing activities and sponsorship, explained: “With more and more parents, and dads in particular, becoming increasingly enthusiastic about their daughters playing football, the time is now to build on this momentum.
“As well as aiming to increase girls’ and women’s participation in the game, UEFA can reveal that interest in the sport is growing.
“The number of people watching women’s football on television across Europe has increased 11 percent in the last year, alongside a nine percent increase in those watching online.”
Nadine Kessler, UEFA head of women’s football, added: “We launched our Together #WePlayStrong image campaign over a year ago to help make football cool to teenage girls and to drive less drop out, more participation and increased investment in the game.
“Over five million teenage girls have engaged with our campaign so far as we strive to communicate the confidence, life skills and togetherness that can be gained from playing the sport.
“As much as this is a fantastic achievement, we endeavour to continue growing the women’s game - and we believe dads can play a crucial role in helping us do so.”
Footballing families and players involved in the campaign include Sir Kenny Dalglish and football broadcaster daughter Kelly, the Baresi family – former player Guiseppe and his daughter Regina who plays for Internazionale; and Egil Østenstad with his daughter Martine who plays top division Norwegian football for Klepp Il.
Sir Kenny Dalglish said of the initiative: “We have realised that football has a unique ability to unite families, clubs and communities.
“Kelly has made her name and reputation in her own right. Her children are now football fans and given the growth of women’s football – and the growing interest in football generally among girls and women – I’m sure girls will look at what she’s achieved and aspire to get involved, whether playing or broadcasting.
“Fathers can have a hugely positive impact on their daughters. I have always encouraged mine to follow their own path in life but growing-up in a football household has rubbed-off on all of them in different ways.”
Former Internazionale player and now assistant manager, Giuseppe Baresi said, “I believe that every father should encourage their little girls to follow their dream, especially if that dream is to become a football player.
“It is such a great sport, it teaches you team spirit and great organisational skills.
“Football is not only for boys, I have seen what it does to my daughter and the way she turned out, so keep supporting your girls, it’s worth it.”