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Last Updated: Monday, 4 February 2008, 18:26 GMT
MP Sutcliffe backs women's game
England Women
Sutcliffe says lessons must be learnt from World Cup
Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe has said the Government and Football Association will do everything in their power to develop women's football.

The Bradford South MP aims to encourage more women into the sport and he backs the creation of an elite summer league.

The Government has targeted two million more people participating in sport by 2012, especially concentrating on increasing numbers of women.

"There needs to be a route for women to inspire to," he told BBC Radio Leeds.

Sutcliffe has demanded that lessons in the women's game must be learnt, namely the lack of financial help provided by the FA for the players at last year's World Cup in China.

"The FA are now trying to move the game forward at pace. We are looking at creating an elite league as well as improving coaching at all levels.

"We need to keep the pressure on and learn from the experiences of the England team, many of which weren't helpful as some of the women struggled in terms of support.

"But the FA are committed and I'm sure they'll deliver what they said they would do," Sutcliffe said.

Sutcliffe also believes the sport needs more support from its local community, highlighting Leeds United Ladies as an example.

The FA are committed and I'm sure they'll deliver what they said they would do

Sports Minister Gerry Sutcliffe

Leeds Ladies are no longer allowed to train or play at Leeds United's Thorp Arch training facilities and are also no longer funded by Ken Bates' club, instead they have developed a partnership with Leeds Metropolitan University.

Despite the setback Leeds have become a major force in the women's game, reaching last season's League Cup final.

"The FA are responding to our pressure. One thing we may need to do is talk more with the local county FA about ways they can help Leeds Ladies in terms of ground provision."


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