Developing female participation in the beautiful game
Wednesday night saw our first Under 12 girls' session at Longridge Recreation Ground in what is a commitment by the club to develop the womens game over the next five years.
Coached by Kris Blundell, our Under 12's kicked their first balls as a team ahead of their entry into the Poulton and District Primary Football League for the 23/24 season.
The rise of the womens game has been phenomenal since Englands Euro's success and many young girls will watch in anticipation next month as the lionesses kick off their world cup campaign in Australia and New Zealand all dreaming of becoming the next Chloe Kelly or Keira Walsh.
The Juniors have seen many talented girls progress through the club with those dreams of playing for England, many leaving the club to join professional clubs. Those where the dreams of Grace and Kate Cronshaw who joined the club back in 2013 in our development classes eventually leaving the club to join Blackburn Rovers before moving over to PNE.
Grace always showed ability right from Day 1 and would show skills far superior to her peers, she was a natural on the ball and her goals made her stand out from the crowd.
Kate, a year younger was equally as good and would often play a year up competing with and outshining the boys, her talent was easy to spot.
It was a sad day when both left to join Blackburn Rovers, but they stayed in touch, and we followed their journey with pride.
The success has continued for the girls and Grace was voted this season as League Player of the Year in the North Valley & Burnley Unity League Under 16s Red representing PNE Womans (u16) while Kate was player of the year for the team.
It is now hoped that Grace will join the PNE Open age team next season while Kate will remain with the Under 16's.
The girls drive and determination comes from their father Damian, a former coach at the Juniors who has watched three of his girls follow their dreams of playing for PNE. The club want to show this same drive and determination as they meet the demands for the woman's game.
The club formed its ladies' team last season, the team is a recreational team allowing club mums, friends, and the local community to enjoy football without the need for commitment. We will look to extend it this season to "Just play" where participants just turn up and play while making new friends and socialising.
The Under 12's will become the foundation stone for our girl's pathway with the emphasis on development and match experience as we try to develop the players of the future.
We will also be working towards the introduction of Under 7's in the early part of the season as we visit local schools promoting the female game and working towards league entry in the 24/25 season.
We will also be looking towards incentives around the woman's games with match day trips to England internationals and tickets to Womans Super League games as part of prize packages for girls' tournaments.
These are exciting time for the woman's game, and we want to be part of that pathway. We want you to get involved. If you are interested in participation as a player or coach, then we ask you to contact the club at firstname.lastname@example.org