Fifteen new women's football teams now in Blackpool

England and Scotland in action at the women's World Cup
England and Scotland in action at the women's World Cup
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As the women's football World Cup puts the beautiful game in the spotlight, it has emerged more of the fairer sex are taking the sport up in Blackpool.

A grant of £308,000 from the Premier League and FA into a new 3G pitch at Blackpool Sports Centre has seen 15 new women's teams using the facility.

This is expected to see an increase of more than 150 female players in the town and an 85 per cent growth in football participation by girls and women.

The figures are included in Blackpool Council's leisure services report to the tourism, economy and communities scrutiny committee.

Overall around 86 new teams are set to use the new pitch including adults and juniors, and the council has put together a five-year development plan in order to increase participation.

However the report suggests swimming is not doing so well, with 13,000 less swimmers using pools at the council's Moor Park and Palatine Leisure Centres in 2018/19 compared to the previous year.

It is believed last summer's warm weather deterred people from using indoor pools as the drop was mainly between May and October.

Overall more than one million people used council sports facilities during the last financial year.

Leisure services had a budget of £5.8m funded by around £4m of income and £1.8m from the council.

Following changes to VAT exemption criteria for leisure services last year, the council received a rebate with £500,000 ring-fenced for maintenance.

This will include refurbishment of changing rooms and toilets at Blackpool Sports Centre.

A report to councillors says: "The health and fitness income targets remain a challenge for the service, but a number of capital developments to improve and refresh the facilities to help attract a new market are being developed.

"The main focus of these developments will be at Palatine Leisure Centre and Blackpool Sports Centre, where the facilities are looking tired and in need of a refresh."