Although it’s clearly been played for centuries, the exact origins of women’s football is a little murky.

In the 16th century, Sir Philip Sidney mentioned the sport in his poem A Dialogue Between Two Shepherds, while a ball owned by Mary Queen of Scots is thought to be the oldest in existence.

It became incredibly popular in the early 20th century, with charity matches being played regularly during the First World War. Spectator numbers at this time were frequently larger than those for the men’s teams.

Many of the women’s teams disbanded in 1921 after the Football Association banned them from playing on grounds affiliated to the FA because “football damaged women’s bodies”.

The future of women’s football looked uncertain.

Following the surge in interest for football after England’s 1966 World Cup win, the FA reversed their decision in 1969.

Slowly the sport increased in popularity, with England even hosting the Women’s European Championships in 2005.

On these pages are Southampton schoolgirls enjoying football training at the Outdoor Sports Centre, Southampton on February 24, 1994.