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Club News

GILLINGHAM FC ANNOUNCE LADIES PARTNERSHIP

17 June 2014

Gillingham FC proud to announce that Ladies Football is to be played at Priestfield

Following some long but productive talks, Gillingham Football Club are very proud to announce that there will be senior Women’s football gracing the Priestfield turf for this forthcoming season as a deal has been struck to take over the management and day to day running of the very successful Gillingham Ladies Team, who finished very highly in the Women’s Premier League this term.

Officially embracing the ladies team under the club’s guidance is a great new challenge for the club but one that is met with real enthusiasm from all concerned.

The Chairman, Paul Scally, is delighted the club has decided to proceed with this amalgamation and is very positive about the prospects for progressing the Ladies team forwards.

He said: “I was invited to watch their match vs Coventry in May and I have to say I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the game and the players’ technical ability, and despite the result, I could see there has been a huge improvement in the standard of football in the Womens’ game overall. 

“I had in my mind that I wanted to provide our own Ladies team out of the Club, but after being approached by the Gillingham Ladies FC management about working closer together, it soon became clear that this is the most sensible option for both parties.

"I would like to gain entrance to the WSL II (FA Womens’ Super League) at some stage in the future but we will take one step at a time and enjoy the journey – I’m looking forward to seeing some games.”

Gillingham Ladies FC has been running autonomously for some time now and currently plies its trade in the Southern Premier Division alongside clubs like Coventry, Cardiff City and Brighton and Hove Albion, having worked its way up through the pyramid, and this level of football is one tier down from the new FA Womens’ Super League.

Darren Hare, our Director of Youth Development and Community Trust at the club is really excited by this news.

He said: “For different reasons this partnership has been a few years’ on the discussion table but it is the icing on the cake for Gillingham FC’s Community trust and its overall plan for helping to develop girls and Womens’ football.

"We have a strong Centre of Excellence program for girls from the age of u9-u17, with some girls achieving international recognition, and this year we will be running a full time girls football /education Academy in conjunction with Bexley College (for 16-19 year olds) from Priestfield Stadium.

“Ultimately for any young player it comes down to progression opportunities, and in female football this isn’t always straightforward, but now a nine year old girl joining Gillingham FC, if talented and committed, could follow the pathway we are creating all the way to senior football at a top level in a few years’ time. That’s’ an excellent vision.”

Darren has applauded the work of outgoing Chairman of Gillingham Ladies FC, Martin Andrews.

He added:  “He has been instrumental in getting the Ladies team where they are today – he deserves a great deal of credit, however, he, and indeed all of the voluntary staff with the ladies team, including current Chairman Paul Brown and Director of Football Bill Long, know this is the best option to move the players and team to the next level.”

The dynamics and final structure needs to be clarified, but Gillingham FC will be taking on the administration and management of the teams’ (reserves also), and will be looking to appoint a new Manager / Coach to take on the role, but will also embrace the support from the current backroom team already in place.

The Chairman said: “We will run the team the same way as we do our others here at Priestfield, and we will treat the players no differently to our boys in terms of our playing philosophy and providing opportunities to develop. We are a family club and this team will become an integral part of our family moving forwards.”

On the back of this news, Darren Hare has decided to drive forwards with a girls football Academy starting in September being delivered out of the club, in partnership with Bexley College.

Darren added: “We are running a number of educational projects out of the club at present as we have the expertise in teaching and an abundance of resources, but the Girls Academy is definitely one that will be in demand after this news.”

Girls will study a Level 3 BTEC in Sport qualification equivalent to three `A` levels in addition to training three times per week. It will be delivered by qualified tutors at the main stadium and the girls will train at the club’s Beechings Cross training ground.

The key date to remember is the trials and information evening on the 14th July at the training ground.

For further enquiries contact Darren Hare on 01634 350224, 07824513446, or email dhare@priestfield.com

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