#GoGirl: Rio Ferdinand Foundation’s female Young Leaders empower Salford young women to get active and talk about mental health

Last December, 18 RFF Young Leaders from Albion Academy ran an all-female, multi-sports event at Manchester Regional Arena as part of RFF’s mental health campaign #GoGirl. The campaign encourages more girls to look after their mental health; recognise triggers of stress; and develop coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety.

Sport is a great way to look after your body and mind so the Young Leaders started off with weekly training and mentoring sessions before beginning a Level 1 Sports Leaders award with SportsLeadersUK. Over four full days, they gained key leadership skills whilst planning and delivering multi-sport sessions.

“It’s been such a great experience and we all got a qualification out of it.”

With their award under their belt, the group went on to co-lead a large-scale community sports and mental health event for over 65 local young women aged 14-25, alongside RFF staff and other Young Leaders. RFF partnered up with several local high schools, youth services and centres from across Salford and Manchester to promote the event and the #GoGirl campaign and the Young Leaders invited GB athletes, such as multiple weight-lifting champion Jo Calvino, skeleton athlete Brogan Crowley and swimmer Jessica Fullalove, to share their journeys through sports.

During the event, young women were empowered to talk openly about mental health and have fun through sport. The Young Leaders used their new skills from the Sports Leaders Award to run activities like basketball, boxing, dance and circuit training. They also took over RFF’s social media for the day and enjoyed sharing the experience of participants and the GB athletes.

“…I think the event brought us closer together.”

The mental health workshops supported the group to not only chat through issues they had experienced but also helped them to recognise similarities, build bonds and support one another. Young Leader Chloe said of her experience, “It was so much fun. Nothing like what we’ve done in the past because we were in charge and I think the event brought us closer together.”

“It’s been such a great experience and we all got a qualification out of it,” says Mia.

Mariam says, “It’s made my CV look great and I’ve made new friends.”

Nene credits the programme with helping her find more opportunities; “I now want to do more sports out of school. I did in Spain but here I couldn’t find anywhere. RFF has helped me to think about things I could do out of school.”

“The biggest difference I have noticed in the girls is confidence…”


Albion Academy PE Teacher, Miss Leigh, also noticed changes in the Young Leaders’ behaviour and relationships with each other following the activities. “The biggest difference I have noticed in the girls is confidence,” she says. “They seem to have really come together since they did the programme. They get on a lot better with each other, can communicate better and listen to each other’s ideas in a more positive way.”

#GoGirl YL and RFF staff have collated some brilliant feedback from our #GoGirl campaign and hope to develop this programme further with our Young Leaders and partners.

Throughout the #GoGirl programme RFF were lucky enough to engage 300 young women across 6 months delivery in Salford and Manchester, helping more YP to talk openly about their mental health through sports!

Thank you to everyone that supported our #GoGirl Young Leaders in their event at Manchester Regional Arena.