Douglas and District is the newest club to take on Junior Girls football, something that has seen massive growth on the island over the last year. Here is a piece from Andy Gosnell, lead co-ordinate and head coach of the girls team on how it happened and what they’re plans are for the future of the girls section of their club…
How did you set up?
Douglas and District (D&D) junior girl teams developed from an idea discussed at a D&D junior coaches meeting in early 2016. D&D Coaches, believed that there was a growing interest in women and girl football on the island, which led to them look into the possibility to develop a junior girl set up that would emulate their successful junior boy set up that had been running over the previous five years. This would also help Douglas and District FC to attain Community club status they were looking to achieve. The club worked alongside the Local FA to secure a Grow the Game grant which offers financial support to the club from the Football Foundation to set up the new team. D&D received £1500 in their first instalment, this money is to be used to book facilities and pay for Coaches to gain their qualifications.
Andy Gosnell senior offered to run the project, ten months later, the club now has two under 8 teams, two under 10 teams and an under 12 team had been set up and with over 40 girls registered with the IOMFA Junior league.
How has it grown and developed?
The starting point for D&D Girls was back in May the club ran two Girl’s Football Open Days at Bemahague. Over forty girls turned up to each session which took all the coaches by surprise but re enforced the view that there was an appetite for junior girls to become involved in football.
On the basis of both open day attendances, further coaching slots were booked at Bemahague throughout June and July and around twenty girls were attending each week. During this time the coaching team were joined by Ric Delaney, a parent of one of the D&D players.
The coaches had some initial worries that the girls might not come back after summer break but when they did, the decision was taken to base the training and coaching sessions in the indoor sports hall at the new Henry Bloom Noble School in Westmoreland Road.
Since then training has been on Monday nights with reception to year 2 at 6pm – 7pm and year 3 and above at 7pm – 8pm. There are now regularly up to 20 girls attending each session and with the addition of junior girls aged 12 and upwards, the outdoor astro pitch at the school will be booked for use from March this year.
All this growth costs money and the coaches have been fortunate in obtaining initial funding from the Football Foundation which helps with the creation of new football teams. This helped the coaches with the initial set up and allowed for the purchase of new equipment as well as funding short term training facilities. The junior girls have also recently obtained sponsorship from local IT provider Skanco Business Systems which enables the coaches to commit to longer term training facilities and will allow for expansion. Additional coaching sponsorship has also been provided by Specsavers.
The Coaching Team
While this growth needs money, it also involves time and as with the D&D junior boys, there is a very good coaching set up within the junior girls. The coaches are all FA qualified at various levels. Ric Delaney also manages D&D men’s first team. Andy Gosnell senior has been Laxey’s goalkeeping coach over the past two years and also works with other goalkeepers at other clubs. The coaching team has been strengthened by the addition of Lauren Shimmin. Lauren is already an FA level 1 coach and is attending the IOM College on a BTEC Sport course. Part of this course involves the mentoring that is offered by Ric and Andy in the junior girl weekly coaching sessions.
The junior girl set up has been supported by Amy Beggs-Cairney, the Women and Girls Football Development Officer and Steve Callister at the Isle of Man Junior Football League. The junior girls have also been assisted by Ben Qualtrough from the FA skills team, Richard Brant at the IOMFA, and Andrew Gosnell Junior, one of the local FA Coach Development team who is happy to turn up and show his Dad how it should be done.
This local support has allowed the coaches to concentrate on the administration of the junior girl club and the coaching of the girls.
Plans for the future?
The coaches are still catching their breath from the previous nine months but ideally they would like to consolidate the existing u8, u10 and u12 teams and build on the skills they are developing.
Andy Gosnell senior is currently working with the Manx Youth Games girl football, which aim to introduce junior girls to football and to provide options for them at the end of the Manx Youth Game sessions. There are plans for D&D to run more junior girl open days in May 2017 to help introduce new players to the club. Additional coaches are being recruited and will be supported and developed via the English FA Coach Education Pathway.
The junior girls club, like the junior boys club, operates with a level of autonomy from the senior club, however the longer term aim would be for the girls to progress through the age groups to a D&D senior Women’s team. That however, is a long way off and the coaches have more than enough to contend with when 40 junior girls descend on Henry Bloom Nobles indoor sports hall on Monday nights, not to mention Sunday morning games in the junior girls development league.
Are you currently playing for a women’s football team on the Isle of Man? Are you interested in learning more about the game and being involved with the coaching of a Junior Girls Football Team? Do you have the passion to inspire, lead and support young aspiring players?
Our Junior Girls Teams are currently coached by FA qualified coaches and we would like to strengthen our coaching team to help coach our growing number of players. If you have two hours to spare during the week to help coach the next generation of female footballers, we would love to hear from you.
By joining our team you will be offered assistance with FA level 1 and 2 coaching qualifications and with access to local FA development coaches. This will assist any budding coaches in their career development and help expand their knowledge of the game. We can also offer badged and sponsored coaches’ kit.
If this is of interest or if you would like to chat through please call or text Andy on 464298 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org