A FOOTBALL team has signed up to tackle the problem of period poverty among girls and young women.

Runcorn Linnets provide free sanitary products to female players and supporters of the club as part of the On the Ball initiative.

The scheme launched last summer by three fans at Celtic Football Club and now close to 60 football clubs of all levels of the game have become involved.

Under the scheme, the Runcorn club will provide sanitary products without charge in the ladies toilets at The Millbank Linnets Stadium in Murdishaw.

The club also want to combat embarrassment and stigma surrounding periods and highlight the financial issues surrounding sanitary products after research showed that one in 10 girls can't afford them.

An online sample survey of 1,000 14-21 year olds, conducted in 2017 by Opinium Research, prompted the girls rights charity Plan International UK to release statistics showing the extent of period poverty in the UK.

The research showed 12 per cent of girls had to improvise sanitary wear for financial reasons, 49 per cent has missed school because of a period and almost half of girls felt embarrassed by them.

Mike Bignall, chairman of Runcorn Linnets, said: "The statistics are truly shocking and as a club, which is fully committed to promoting the value of sport and healthy lifestyle among young women and girls, we are committed to doing what we can to break down the financial barriers and also the stigma surrounding periods and menstruation.

"If providing free sanitary products for our young players and supporters helps with this even in a small way then as a community club, we will feel that our involvement in the On The Ball campaign will have been worthwhile."

Lucy Russell, UK campaign manager at Plan International UK, said: "Period poverty is a very real challenge facing many girls in the UK, and it’s devastating to hear of the impact it is having on girls’ lives, their ability to be themselves, and their self-esteem.

"We need a society-wide approach to bust the taboo, and an education programme which addresses the shocking reality that too many girls lack the knowledge and understanding of how to manage their period, and are too afraid to ask for advice."