Sports tutors have been bidding to introduce a regular women’s football team for a number of years but low recruitment numbers across the region had put the ambition on hold. But this academic year, after a visit to Chasetown Football Club, 14 girls have enrolled on the Level 3 in Sports Performance and Excellence programme and are now playing league matches as part of their course.
The group have joined the Association of Colleges (AoC) West Midlands Women’s Category Three League and are currently sitting top of the pile after two wins and a draw from their opening three fixtures – including a comprehensive 15-1 demolition of Stoke-on-Trent College.
The College’s senior management team have thrown their support behind the initiative as Principal and Chief Executive Jatinder Sharma, Director of Finance Peter Merry and Director of Commercial Projects John Adams attended their opening game in September.
Students from across the College, even those not on a Sports course, are now being urged to get involved in the new women’s football team to boost the squad further. The team train twice a week at Aston University and play 11-a-side matches most Wednesday afternoons.
Mark Howard, Sports Development Co-ordinator, said: “I’ve wanted to have a women’s football team for years and we really tried hard. But while the profile it gets nationally has obviously risen over recent years at grassroots level it can still be quite hard to get the numbers and recruitment prevented us from doing so.
“Last year we proactively went to Chasetown FC and did some work with their under 15 and 16 teams and since then seven of those have enrolled here and it has given us that confidence and momentum to take this forward.
“They are an absolutely brilliant group and it’s early days but they remain unbeaten and are currently top of the league. In terms of their football they are improving no end and they really have the opportunity to progress and eventually play at a higher level with clubs such as West Bromwich Albion, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Aston Villa offering great provision in women’s football.”
Mark added: “The ambition now for next year is to have a first and second team and although it will be a big challenge we think it’s achievable.”