Skip to content
Red graphic of studentships background.

Girls’ elite football in England and the intersection of ‘race’, ethnicity, gender and social class

  • School: School of Science and Technology
  • Starting: 2023
  • Funding: UK student / EU student (non-UK) / International student (non-EU) / Fully-funded


Project ID: SST_2_5

The proposed PhD study will explore minority ethnic girls’ accessibility to and/or retention within grassroots and elite youth football in England. During the 2022 UEFA Women’s European Championships, the issue of racial inequality in the England women’s set up was widely commented on within popular media channels (The Guardian, 2022). These contestations highlighted a need for further research within the women’s game, specifically at grassroots and/or elite youth level, to understand the complexities for those who may be marginalised due to their ‘race’ or ethnicity, and/or those who are socio-economically disadvantaged (Allison, 2019).

Although there is a growing body of research relating to the experiences of Black and Asian men in football (Hylton, 2010; Campbell, 2016; Kilvington, 2019; Burdsey, 2020), research pertaining to minority ethnic women in football is minimal (Scraton et al., 2005), and this remains the case (Williams, 2013; Ratna, 2013; Bowes and Culvin, 2020). As a result, this research explores the intersections of gender and ‘race’, alongside social class, within youth football in England.

In England, elite girls’ football has undergone a large restructure in light of issues of accessibility and growth. This new structure sees up to 70 Emerging Talent Centres (ETCs) established across England, catering for girls aged between 8 and 16, and enabling 95% of players accessing ETC’s within an hour of their home by 2024, and more than doubling the numbers of girls who are involved. However, it remains that accessibility may still be an issue, via enforced marginalisation of communities that are based in urban locations and therefore restricted access to elite football structures, many of whom are from minority ethnic communities.

Additionally, insight into the girls and women’s football workforce is also necessary, as Bradbury (2017) explains that racialised minorities are excluded from football coaching (Rankin-Wright et al., 2017) and management opportunities.  As a consequence, there may be a lack of cultural understanding and sensitivity towards players, parent and carers within elite environments (Lusted et al., 2020).

The aims of this research are as follows:

- Analyse the structure, policy and practice of the elite girls’ football pathway in England, with respect to social class, ‘race’ and ethnicity.

- Examine the experiences of minority ethnic girls’ and their parents/carers, within both elite and grassroots pathways to better understand issues of access and opportunity.

- Explore cultural sensitivity within the elite girls’ football workforce, and how this may impact upon the needs of minority ethnic athletes and parents/carers.

Supervisory Team:

Dr Ali Bowes

Anika Leslie-Walker

Dr. Cleveland Barnett

Entry qualifications

  • 1st class / 2:1 undergraduate degree, and / or equivalent
  • Completed masters level qualification and / or evidence of substantive published research works

How to apply

Please visit our how to apply page for a step-by-step guide and make an application and include the project ID in your application

Application deadline: Friday 16 June 2023.

Fees and funding

This is an NTU Studentship funded opportunity.

Guidance and support

Find out about guidance and support for PhD students.

Still need help?

Ali Bowes