Date: Thu 06 Apr 2023

By Steve Whitney

Community Grant Helps Weston’s Women's Section Grow

Pitching In Southern League Premier Division South title-chasers Weston-super-Mare AFC are living up to their nickname and helping women’s football fly.

The Seagulls are adding to their women’s senior side with an under-18s team in the hope of keeping more young girls in the game.

The club’s managing director, Oli Bliss, is excited by the club’s capacity for growth following the timely boost of a recent grant from the Trident Community Foundation.

“We’ve got a ladies team of mixed age which we are looking to improve and we thought the best way was to introduce an under-18s team to feed into that,” explained Bliss. “We’ll be starting in September when the academic year begins and working with Weston College.

“We run our under-19 boys’ teams with them, so we’ve had a few meetings about the under-18 girls programme and we’re trying to recruit at the moment.

“Once we start the first year, where we need at least 15 girls to join the programme, it’s a two-year programme and I would like to have up to 30 girls hopefully with two teams.”

The Lionesses’ glorious victory in last summer’s Euros has naturally enticed more young girls into the game.

And Bliss feels it is vitally important that his club seize the moment and capitalise on the hard work done on the back of that success to increase female engagement in football.

“We’ve got a massive opportunity for our ladies team to improve over the next few years,” he said.

“In Weston, they have a very good junior programme up to the age of 16 but we find a lot of girls move out of the area because there isn’t the provision in Weston thereafter.

“We want to keep people in the area. We know a lot of them drop out the game, so we are trying to fill that gap and make sure they stay in football.”

The promotion-chasers are among the 40-plus clubs to have benefited from a grant from the Trident Community Foundation.

The initiative is part of Pitching In’s multi-million-pound investment into grassroots sport and has so far invested over £100,000 to help Step 3 and 4 clubs start or expand community programmes, with Bliss hailing the fund’s impact in getting the idea off the ground.

He said: “It’s going to be very useful and give us a great opportunity to start the programme”.

By Ben Hart

Ladbrokes, with the support of its owner Entain, has launched a multi-million-pound investment programme, Pitching In, designed to support and promote grassroots sports. For more details see: Click to visit entaingroup web site

Weston-super-Mare Web Site

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