Back in 2015 Wattsfield had one girls’ team as part of their Charter Standard Community Club and only a handful of registered players. It is hard to imagine that fast forwarding 3 and a half years that Wattsfield Girls boasts two Under 14 teams, two Under 12 teams, two Under 10 teams and are close to forming an Under 8 side. All of these teams play in the South Lakes Girls League run by the Westmorland County FA and compete against other Westmorland clubs as well as a number of Lancashire clubs from the Lancaster, Morecambe and Barrow areas.
Recently we caught up with Head of Girls Football Chris Miller and Coach Patrick Berry who explained to me how Wattsfield transitioned from a club with one girls’ team to their current standing. Chris told me that Wattsfield Girls have over 70 registered players across 4 age groups. Chris says that Wattsfield’s success is down to the friendly atmosphere at the club and an inclusive environment which welcomes girls no matter what their ability or experience. Wattsfield demonstrate a close relationship between the boys and the girl’s team and both are treated equally alongside each other. Chris has done some fantastic work recruiting girls into the club and told me that they have utilised social media, the County FA and their biggest recruitment tool has been word of mouth through their positive reputation in the community.
Part of their success recruiting this season came after getting involved with the FA programme SSE Wildcats. James Pattison, Football Development Officer at Westmorland County FA said “The SSE Wildcats Girls’ Football Centres provide girls ages 5-11 years old with the opportunity to Have Fun, Make Friends and Play Football. This fun, friendly environment will develop young girls’ physical & social skills by encouraging a healthy lifestyle and inspiring them to develop a lifelong love of the game. We are keen here in Westmorland to increase the opportunities for girls to play football each season and see the Wildcats programme as a major part of that”
Patrick Berry (Wattsfield Coach) has had a major part in the success of the wildcats programme at Wattsfield along with Amanda Mitchinson and Chris. From their recruitment a staggering 20 girls attended the first wildcat session back in May and as this developed, transitioned these girls into two Under 10 teams and a number of girls in the U8 squad. Patrick said that the Wildcats programme was imperative to the recruitment of girls in this age group and he now runs the Under 10 teams who play non-competitive football and he hopes they develop as a team over the coming seasons.
Chris and Patrick along with the other Wattsfield committee members and coaches see the opportunity to keep growing the girl’s game and hope to establish teams in every age group from Under 8’s through to Under 16’s and hope to see these girls move forward into open age football.
We would like to congratulate Chris, Patrick and the whole Wattsfield team on their hard work in getting the club to where it is today!
If your club is interested in running a Wildcats Centre this season or developing a girls’ team then please contact info@WestmorlandFA.com for more information!