It was great to see another dedicated soccer camp running for the girls within our district last month. The support we have received within the club and from parents within our PDC has been first class.
The success of this just goes to show how everyone is fully on board with what we’re trying to do for women’s football. It’s hugely important for the club and I that we push the platforms we offer for young women and girls to play football within the district and support like this shows we are on the right path.
Of course, it’s no secret that the popularity of women’s football is continuing to rise and having seen our lionesses do well, we are keen to captialise on this by giving more and more people the chance to play within our Player Development Centre (PDC) and Advanced Player Development Centre (APDC).
As we promote the opportunities to play within Harrogate, we are keen to use our status as a football club to ensure we are offering the best possible opportunities to those who are with our PDC and APDC.
With that in mind, for the first time in three years, we have introduced a games programme to get the girls in our PDC and APDC playing more football. The first block of that has finished and having reflected on it, we believe it’s been a huge success.
We have games planned for the next block now and it gives the players an opportunity to showcase what they have learned through their coaching. We’re also giving every girl in the local community a chance to represent their football club and to grow that attachment.
Looking at these games, we have been very impressed by what we have seen and that is no surprise.
The PDC and APDC coaches are brilliant. We have a philosophy which we try to implement as early as possible and I really enjoy working with them. We are always learning stuff from each other, I see things in there sessions which I use in mine and likewise they can come to me for advice.
That is how coaching works, everyone here wants to learn every day. I learn from them and I hope that they learn from me and as a result the collective is always improving.
Having been with the club since March, I am really pleased to see everything going to plan so far. We have set out a plan which will take a few years to implement but we are working to rebuild the women’s side of the club.
The biggest achievement so far is increasing the number of women and girls who are playing football under the umbrella of Harrogate Town. We have introduced a reserve team to build up the pathway to the first-team.
We are proud of the pathway which we have from the Advanced Player Development Centre to the reserve side and eventually to the first-team. We are ready to compete and do so with players from the district representing us.
Last season, the women’s side didn’t have strength in depth. For us, we want to have our PDC and APDC in a place where they can provide us with the players to improve the women’s team.
At the end of last season, we hosted a series of trials so we could get a look at the talent within the district. The response was fantastic and with that we realised there was an appetite to expand with a reserve side and APDC to bridge the gap to the first-team.
We have already seen three players make the step up to our reserve side from the APDC. That will soon be four and that is a fantastic start. That success is something to build on and hopefully we can do that in the coming weeks and months.
As we work to implement and improve on this plan, I am always in dialogue with Josh Walsh and Dave Riley, we want our boys and girls PDC to be united. We want to have a mirrored approach because they have established a great set up in the district and we hope to follow in that path.
To do that, it’s important that we keep that dialogue open. We are always bouncing ideas off each other and as a group it’s always about what we can deliver to the benefit of the PDC and the children who are involved in it.
While we are keen to improve the players within our PDC and APDC, we want to make our environment for football as fun as possible. The coaching of players is a bit more subtle in that way because it’s important that the girls enjoy their time and we find ways to maximse that enjoyment.
However, having said that, we are still working to make sure that every session has a structure and that is in place to ensure that we make every session exciting while also aiding the development of them as players.
That is a drive for me, especially with the soccer camps, we want to make every camp or every PDC block better than the last. We’ve had a fantastic response to those camps but we aren’t settling for that, all that does is show that we are going in the right direction.
Finally, I’d like to thank all the players, parents, coaches and everyone within the club because the support they have given me has been second to none. We’ve had surveys and questionnaires going out to understand what our players want and the response has been fantastic.
Those have allowed me to develop and improve what we offer within the Harrogate Town AFC Player Development Centre.
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