Grassroots football doesn’t take place without the commitment of parents and volunteers who dedicate countless hours to coach development, training sessions and match day management.
Starting girls’ teams in your club isn’t difficult, and if planned well with the right volunteer, it can be very simple. We’ve spoken with a number of clubs to hear about their ‘top tips’ in the hope that it will inspire and encourage others in the county - you can download the helpful poster with all their good advice at the bottom of this page.
It’s always good for clubs to start with a plan and ask yourself the following questions:
- What age group should we target?
- Do we have the training and playing capacity for a new team?
- Do we have volunteers available to help start up a new team?
- When is the best time to start?
We would always recommend that you take a whole club approach by involving your committee in discussions and sharing ideas. It is important that your club has an inclusive ‘football for all’ ethos, so that girls and their families feel welcome and a part of the club.
As girls’ football is becoming more and more popular, players are getting involved at a younger age group and we would encourage clubs to start new teams at the U7-U10 age group. Starting teams at the younger age groups has worked well for a number of clubs in the past couple of years and many of these take part in the Oxford Mail Girls’ League’s U8 and U9 development festivals.
Steve Cooper, Development Officer for the OMGFL, organises monthly development festivals in and around Oxfordshire and is keen to get more teams involved: “The festivals help players learn the basic skills in a non-pressurised atmosphere, where they are allowed to make mistakes and learn from them.
"Playing short matches against different opponents helps players gain experience from playing against different abilities and fully prepares them for the match day environment. The festivals are enjoyed by the players as well as parents and spectators”.
With opportunities available all year round, it allows you start new teams at a time convenient for you. If you do start in the colder months, it’s sensible to have your training sessions indoor.
It’s essential that you work together as a club to advertise and promote your girls’ team. Utilising your club website, social media, and existing club members is useful to get the message out. Creating links and advertising in local primary schools also has positive effects. Make sure any promotional material includes information about your target age group and how people can get in touch with you.
Once you have recruited girls, the challenge is to keep them engaged and help them develop. Making sessions fun and social is important for any new player. Try and buddy players together so that the new ones feel welcome and give them positive feedback at the end of their first session.
Creating good first impressions parents is also vital. It’s useful to let parents know about your club ethos, expectation levels, and how they could also get involved and help out. Assuring them that coaches are qualified and have relevant safeguarding checks will keep their mind at ease. It’s good practice to give parents a Club Welcome Pack which includes information such as key contacts, codes of conduct and club information.
“There’s no time like the present to start new girls teams at your club” commented Sarah Wood, Oxfordshire FA’s Football Development Manager, “we can support you with all aspects of starting a new team from identifying funding opportunities to volunteer recruiting and linking with schools.”
To find out more about how your club could start a new girls’ team please contact Sarah Wood on 01993 894405 or download our 'Top Tips' Infographic, below.