This year has provided numerous challenges for everyone involved with local football clubs both on and off the pitch. Starting a new team, during recent uncertainty, may have seemed unrealistic however Torpoint Athletic Juniors FC have done exactly that and created a new girls team under the supervision of head coach Mat Farrow. After speaking to Mat, he has expressed the challenges of creating the new team but it’s clear to see the determination and desire to provide a suitable footballing environment for the girls has allowed the new team to form. To provide an insight into their journey, Mat has explained how the new team was formed.
“In late 2019 my daughter Beth and a few of the other girls in school were picked to play in a local tournament. Long story short, they went but didn't enjoy it and felt they needed more experience playing within a local team.
So, towards the end of Jan 2020 I started to look into a local club that Beth could join, all were too far to travel for regular evening training so I started exploring different options that would provide a local footballing opportunity. I was put in touch with Eleanor Bonsor (Secretary at Torpoint Athletic Juniors FC) who was, and still is, really helpful. She was really excited about the possibility of a girls team in Torpoint so we had a meeting. After this, a promotional flyer was made and Beth and her friends put the word out within school and we organised the first trial training session on 25th Feb which was delivered by Vicky Fisher from the Cornwall FA. We did 2 successful taster sessions but unfortunately 2 weeks of poor weather followed by Covid-19 lockdown put a halt to proceedings.
During lockdown we searched for a coach that could take the sessions going forward and we were fortunate enough that Kate Todd volunteered to run the session during the interim period. We kept in touch with all the girls over lockdown and on 9th June we returned to training again. The first session had 8 girls, which considering they weren't at school was great. We have trained every week since that date with no cancelled sessions and those same 8 girls are still with us and we now have 15 that turn up come rain or shine. Kate was brilliant but unfortunately, due to other commitments, couldn’t carry on coaching. Luckily, we found out that Scott was interested in taking over so we had a smooth transition between the two. He has a very different coaching approach that all the girls seem to be loving. Their development and skills are progressing week on week and we are in the process of setting up our first all-girls friendly matches.
We've been lucky enough to receive a start-up grant which will help with equipment and due to us not having anywhere to train during the winter we have applied for, and received another grant for 75% of the cost, for mobile spotlights. This will allow the girls to train during the winter, outside. We now finally, after 9 weeks wait due to Covid-19, have a brand new kit that the girls chose and are really happy with so they now feel and look like a proper team.
After asking the girls “why they turn up to the sessions”, they’ve all come back with similar responses that highlight the enjoyment and satisfaction they receive from being part of the team and helping each other grow both in confidence and footballing ability.
I have never played football, never been interested in it and never in a million years would have predicted that I would set up and run a girls football team. As it turns out, I'm really enjoying the challenge! They are all so polite, pay attention to what's going on and really enjoy the sessions.
Vicky Fisher (Cornwall FA Womens, Girls and Disability Football Development Officer) has been involved in Torpoint’s journey to create this new team and expressed her delight at seeing new girls receiving suitable footballing opportunities, “It’s been fantastic to see the progress and development at Torpoint. Its never easy to set up a new girls team at U16s but to see the girls go from strength to strength despite the challenges of COVID and lockdown is credit to the girls and to all of those supporting them. With a Wildcats centre already established in Torpoint it’s great to see a pathway for girls football being developed and I look forward to seeing the girls playing local fixtures soon”.
If your club is interested in identifying possible opportunities to extend the womens and girls football provision available at your club, please contact Vicky Fisher via Vicky.firstname.lastname@example.org