Adam Sibley/ Coach/ Liskeard Girls FC

In youth football it’s been a hard winter with widespread postponements for a good 3 month block. The weather has left pitches in a poor state and teams with a lot of fixtures to catch up on.

I think teams are going to have to be creative in how they get these games played and league finish dates may need to be pushed back but these aren’t the biggest problem in regards to girls’ football.

It seems teams around are struggling to keep girls interested in football and in a normal season clubs would struggle to get a full team out come the end and others would struggle to even finish a season.

This season, however, with less teams in each league at the beginning of the campaign in Cornwall, it has caused more of a problem due to managers not being on the ball at the beginning of September. When the weather was good their teams were not ready, therefore many weekends passed with very few games played.

This had lead to huge chunks of time without games being played and now we are in a position where two leagues are down to just 3 teams due to sides pulling out claiming a lack of numbers.

In girls’ football, unlike the boys’ game, we can’t afford to lose teams as losing just one team could have a domino effect, or stop a league from continuing, which has a knock on effect to all those girls in teams who want to play football.

In times like this it is important to keep training fun and interesting and keep on recruiting throughout the year. This season we had good numbers at each age group to start the season but have grown at every age band to the point now that I think we have the biggest squads in each league.

I think as a coach you have to know before the season that you may lose players, so you should always want to be recruiting but when you are in a league where people aren’t as proactive as yourself it causes problems. We want to play every week and look forward to every weekend but having to tell your girls every week that the game is called off, it gets very frustrating and disheartening for them. You can’t then blame these players and parents after a rash of postponements if they plan to do something else with their weekend when you need them, as they give up so much for football that if you go two or three weekends of cancellations, I’m not surprised they don’t hold up much hope of a game being played.

I think until we get girls playing regular games in this county, you can’t grow the game. In the short term there may be some casualties but people need to start thinking long term. This can be done with a group effort from the national FA helping support the development of 3G pitches for the winter months to avoid postponements, the leagues being tougher on cancelling of fixtures and the local FA monitoring squad numbers and supporting struggling teams to recruit.

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