Liv Cooke, the freestyle football world champion, has joined the biggest names in the women’s game for one of the most spectacular kickabouts captured on camera to increase football participation among girls.
The 18-year-old was filmed showcasing her outrageous skills hundreds of feet up in a ski lift and on top of a fishing boat as UEFA, European football’s governing body, took eight professional footballers on an amazing journey to encourage girls and young women to take up the sport.
Play Anywhere was filmed in 13 unique locations across five countries over 12 days and spanned some 16,000km in the latest leg of UEFA’s Together #WePlayStrong campaign.
As well as Cooke’s awesome footballing acrobatics, the cast and crew filmed in some of Europe’s most idyllic and uninhabited locations: from the distinctive stone walls of Dubrovnik in southern Croatia, Gspon’s highest pitch in Europe in the Swiss Alps, the tiny island of Eriskay in northern Scotland’s Outer Hebrides to the remote fishing village of Henningsvær in the Lofoten archipelago in Norway.
The #PlayAnywhere crack squad included Norwegian sisters Ada and Andrine Hegerberg (of Lyon and Paris Saint-Germain respectively), compatriot Maren Mjelde (Chelsea), English quartet Lauren James, Jordan Nobbs (both Arsenal), Fran Kirby (Chelsea) and Alex Greenwood (Liverpool) and Barcelona and Netherlands midfielder, Best FIFA Women’s Player 2017 and 2016/17 UEFA Women’s Player of the Year, Lieke Martens.
Their journey was followed by hundreds of girls throughout the continent who came to join their heroes as part of UEFA’s ongoing commitment to making football the No1 sport for girls and women by 2020.
Liv Cooke, the champion freestyler, said: “It was an incredible experience travelling Europe as an ambassador for UEFA’s #PlayAnywhere initiative, and showing girls that football really can be played anywhere. From a ski lift to the highest football pitch in Europe, it was a huge buzz to be showcasing my skills in such unusual locations and hopefully inspiring young people to pick up a ball and have fun with the sport. I can’t wait to see the Play Anywhere entries and meet the winners at Disneyland Paris in May.”
As well as premiering the Play Anywhere film, UEFA has also launched a Europe-wide competition for girls to underline their love of football by posting, photos and videos of kickabouts in the most random and unusual locations, for the chance to win a family weekend at Disneyland Paris and exclusive weekly prizes from the stars of Play Anywhere.
Entrants will have until 30 April to submit their quirky clips and snaps on Musical.ly, Instagram or Twitter with UEFA set to reveal the winning post on 1 May.
Lyon star Ada Hegerberg, who made the journey home to Norway to take part in the video, said: “I had an absolute blast filming Play Anywhere up north in Norway. The Lofoten Islands are famous the world over for showcasing Aurora Borealis – the Northern Lights – and it was great to go there and play amid such breathtaking scenery. I can’t wait for everyone to see it and hope it leads to even more girls trying and enjoying football through this competition.”
Arsenal and England’s Jordan Nobbs, who had a kickaround in London’s Shepherd’s Bush, added: “The real beauty of our game is that you really can Play Anywhere. It was great to be part of the next Together #WePlayStrong film.”
#PlayAnywhere gives UEFA 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 Europe’s foremost female sport.
UEFA’s ambition for how the game can attract more girls involves raising soccer’s profile and image, increasing visibility and engagement, driving participation at grassroots level and increasing investment.
To enter the competition, young people are asked to post a photo or video of them with a football in a cool or remarkable location, tagging @WePlaystrong and using the hashtag #PlayAnywhere.