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Women’s football

The 2016/2017 football season marked a significant step forward in the growth process of women’s football experience in AC Milan.

The development followed the lines issued by FIGC with press release No. 188/1 of 26th March 2015 governing the commitments of sports clubs in this specific matter for the following three-year period and in compliance with the provisions press release No. 366/A of 26 April 2016: to register at least a further 20 U12 women players, compared to 2015/2016 football season.

For 2016/2017 Football Season 58 girls divided by the following categories were registered:

  • Under 11 women team 2007/2008 (n. 20);
  • Under 13 women team 2005/2006 (n. 19);
  • Under 14 women team 2004 (n. 19).

For athletes’ technical and human training, the Club provided for:

  • n. 5 women coaches UEFA B licensed
  • n. 1 athletic trainer;
  • n. 1 psychologist present on the field;
  • n. 1 goalkeepers’ coach.

AC Milan has participated in 2004 women category and Under 13 women category (2005/2006) in the autumn and spring championships (Milan’s local Championships). The Under 11 women category (2007/2008) didn’t take part in the Championships, thus playing friendly matches at the weekend.

The under 14 women category (2004) participated in the Danone Cup. During the 2017 edition, 62 teams were joined by an ever-larger component of Serie A and Serie B professional clubs (23 with 30 teams represented), that set up an Under 12 Women team in accordance with the provisions of the National Licensing system. AC Milan participated in the national final held during the 9th Grassroots Festival on June 17/18, 2017 at the Federal Technical Centre in Corverciano.

The goals for 2017/2018 sports season are:

  • Completion of Basic Activity with the Under 7 women category
  • Registration in the regional women championship with the Under 14 Youth team
  • Technical and methodological coordination of women’s sector

The Psycho-pedagogical Team decided to conduct an analysis on the leadership of women players and on the relationships of the group dynamics with the Under 14 team (2004) to try to improve the girls’ motivation and, consequently, their performance.

The post-graduation thesis, F.G. “An analysis of leadership roles, of leadership among peers, and of the group’s relationship dynamics as a way to improve motivation1 is the result of an internship started in April 2017 and concluded at the end of June 2017, at the same time as the interruption of football activities of youth teams for the summer break. During this period the activities mainly focused on the study of leadership roles, of leadership among peers, and of the group’s relationship dynamics as a way to improve motivation. The study’s sample was the Under 14 female team (2004).

Through this research work, we wanted to try to identify to what extent a conscious management of one's own and others’ leadership influences motivation; to understand the (explicit and implicit) dynamics existing between women players to identify who takes the role of leader, what kind of leader she represents, and whether there are also negative leaders. And at the same time, we wanted to check to what extent women coaches are regarded (or not) as leaders by the team.

Analysis method

A multi-method was used for the research work.

Data were collected through leadership tools:

A.  a quantitative observation grid, in which the verbal and non-verbal behaviours of women players during the training sessions was reported;

B. a quantitative and qualitative questionnaire on leadership, filled in by the footballers and coaches;

C. a workshop on leadership.

These tools on motivation were added to the above ones:

D. a diary of qualitative emotions, which each footballer has filled in before and after each football match;

E. a quantitative questionnaire on the motivational orientation in sport; filled in by the girls.

Sample analysed

The sample of the research was the Under 14 women team (2004). For the questionnaire on the leadership, in addition to the girls, the team’s two women coaches were also included.

A research was carried out involving the female sector of AC Milan: F.F., “The importance of the Role Model in youth sports: an in-depth study on women’s football in A.C. Milan”. The research was intended to explore these two constructs, the role model and the motivation for sports practice, and the relationship between them. Despite being the top-watched sport in the world, the football sector still presents a strong discrepancy between men and women sectors. In Italy, there are in fact 20k women registered footballers, a significantly low number vs the 31 million women in Italy.

Furthermore, the football activity carried out by women in Italy shows even lower numbers compared to the main European and world realities; however, it is important to highlight that it is a growing movement also in our country. In recent years, various rules that open the way to greater promotion, visibility and closeness to women’s football, have been launched.

The literature on women’s sport and the practice of football is constantly growing; in particular, the theme of motivation for sports practice has been widely addressed with reference to the coach, parents and peers. However, the role model’s influence is not yet important with reference to motivation.

The role model is to be understood, in this project, as an individual perceived as a model with whom to identify or imitate (Guest & Cox, 2009), who provides a success model that can be achieved and often highlights behaviours necessary to achieve this success (Lockwood, 2006).


The research carried out for the thesis project has set the following goals:

  • To explore the representations of two fundamental constructs of psychology, the role model and the motivation for sports practice, still scarcely explored with reference to women sports;
  • To deepen the future foreshadowing of the practice of women’s football in relation to the specific Italian context.



Number of athletes of women youth sector: 56

  • Under 14 team 2004, aged 12-13
  • Under 13 team 2005 – 2006 Juniores, aged 11-12
  • Under 11 team 2007 – 2008, aged 9-10

Number of women coaches of the youth sector: 5, average age 30 years


Six focus groups were organized to comply with the goals of the survey. Each team has been divided into two groups, with the aim of facilitating the sharing of ideas during the discussions. The focus groups followed the outline herebelow:

Semi-structured interviews were made with women coaches.