The Staffordshire village of Abbots Bromley has its first ever women’s football team and heads into its inaugural match on Sunday with one player in particular feeling thankful for the chance to don her boots again, writes Tony Leighton.
Nine months after the sudden death of her partner Neil, Ellie Griffiths is raring to go alongside team mates who have played a crucial part in a support network that is helping the midfield player to rebuild her life.
As she prepares to face Stafford Soccer Mums FC on a ground-breaking day for women’s sport in the village, Ellie – who has not played football since her high
school days – acknowledges the support she has received.
“We’d only been in Abbots Bromley 12 months when Neil died,” she says. “In my thirties and not really knowing the village, I could’ve quite easily become isolated. But joining the women’s football sessions was a way for me to connect.
“Not only is the exercise great for my physical health, but the support network has been good for my mental wellbeing. The training sessions are tailored to our
skill levels, there’s no judgement and everyone is welcome.
“It’s become a safe space each week with a great bunch of women. Most importantly though, it’s fun. I know that even on a bad day, I’ll have a laugh at our Monday night sessions. I also know Neil would be proud of me for dusting off the boots and getting out there.”
Sending the players out there on Sunday afternoon will be manager Scott Taylor, who along with coaching partner Ollie Crooks formed the team following a run of training sessions that grew in popularity after a slow start.
We only had five players at our first ‘turn up and play’ session,” recalls Taylor, “but we’ve now got 16 and we felt the time was right to put a team together.
“We’ll only be playing friendlies in the short term, but we have players who are passionate and good enough to play in a league. That’s our aim, but right now
we’re just so excited to be playing for the first time on Sunday.”