This weekend Burnley FC Girls and Ladies will make club history when they participate in the clubs’ first ever SSE Women’s FA Cup match in the first round away from home against Alnwick Town Juniors.
How they got there is a testament to the hard work put into new initiatives around growth and development implemented at the club over the last 12 months.
Previously functioning separately from Burnley FC, the strategic decision was made prior to the 16/17 season to bring the Girls and Ladies team in house and within the operations of the club’s charity, Burnley FC in the Community. A new Female Football Development Officer, Matt Bee, was recruited with the aim to restructure the club and to offer sustainable support for the long term.
Applying on and off the pitch initiatives for girls and women including the Female Football Hub and Premier League Girls sessions, it is a testament to the staff that Burnley is seeing a growth in hunger and desire to play women’s football. The club, which now engages with over 500 women, one of the largest programmes in the North West of England, has set out to create a team that is credible yet inspiring for the next generation of girls.
One year on and the club’s initiatives have fast proven their effectiveness in the development of grassroots players right up to the first team. This Sunday, the first team, who underpin the whole female football pathway in the community, will make club history when they step out onto the pitch in the first round of the SSE Women’s FA Cup.
Female Football Development Officer, Matt Bee, whose ethos as a coach is to give young players a chance said, “My role with the first team has been to change the whole environment and structure of the team, both on and off the pitch, and to improve the overall professionalism of the club. We have now achieved that and we’re progressing in a fantastic direction with a great mix of both experienced players and young players. We are confident they have a big future ahead of them.”
Taylor Gregson, who plays in Burnley FC Girls and Ladies first team has come up through the club’s development scheme and said, “This club means a lot to me – it’s the only place I’ve ever wanted to play. It has undergone some big changes in the last year and this has massively improved the quality of all aspects of the club. The future is bright and I’m excited to be part of it!”
The FA is looking to shed light on women and girls’ football as part of its Gameplan for Growth – a pledge to double participation of women and girls in football by 2020.
Only time will tell how Burnley’s SSE FA Women’s Cup dream will play out.
The SSE Women’s FA Cup Final will take place at Wembley Stadium connected by EE on Saturday 5 May, 2018. Kids go free and tickets available on www.thefa.com/tickets
Report courtesy of the FA via Pitch