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Steph Houghton left teenager Libby Harvey speechless, as City surprised the hardworking youngster with VIP passes to Rita Ora’s sell-out gig, as part of UEFA’s #WePlayStrong collaboration.
The aspiring footballer from Glossop thought she was visiting the club to provide City in the Community with feedback on its community initiative programmes, and was gobsmacked when she was presented with the tickets.
Libby also had the chance to meet Rita Ora before the show as a reward for her dedication to the sport and also received two tickets to Sunday's FA Women's Super League game against Yeovil to see her favourite women’s players in action
Community has always been at the heart of Manchester City, and for over 30 years the Club’s foundation, City in the Community (CITC) has been using the power of football to impact the lives of thousands of youngsters.
The CityGirls programme forms part of the foundation’s extracurricular offering, providing girls aged 6-16 with the chance to take part in weekly football sessions at the City Football Academy. The fun and structured coaching sessions allow participants to focus on their technical development combined with the integration and enhancement of social skills.
Captain Steph Houghton - Libby's favourite player - was delighted to be involved in the surprise, commenting: “Libby has been attending our City in the Community City CityGirls programme for over five years. She has overcome many challenges and never let that stop her playing the game she loves.
“It’s brilliant to see an artist like Rita Ora bridging the gap between football and music, and encouraging more girls to try the sport. Libby is such a big fan of hers and also loves playing football, so it’s amazing that #WePlayStrong and Manchester City have been able to give her this experience.”
Libby said: “It was such a brilliant experience meeting Rita Ora and seeing her concert. Rita is someone I have watched since I was really young, and she’s so inspirational to me.
“Football is a huge part of my life, and getting this opportunity through We Play Strong and Manchester City makes me even more determined to keep playing the sport.”
UEFA, European football’s governing body announced that they were joining forces with the international singer/songwriter, actress and fashion designer this week, in a groundbreaking partnership aimed at transforming the image of women’s football and encouraging participation among girls and young women.
Through the Together #WePlayStrong campaign UEFA aims to make football more culturally relevant and inspirational for girls in their teenage years, where they traditionally drop out in large numbers.
This collaboration provides UEFA with an additional platform to promote its first ever pan-European campaign, Together #WePlayStrong, which is an integral part of its five-year strategic plan to make football the number one sport for girls and women in countries across Europe.
UEFA’s ambition for how the game can attract more girls to play involves raising the profile and image of the game, increasing visibility and engagement, driving participation at grassroots level and increasing investment.
For more information head to weplaystrong.org