Town criticise FA after centre of excellence axed

IPSWICH Town have slammed the Football Association after the national body controversially axed their successful Girls Centre of Excellence.

More than 500 girls in the last decade have benefited from the expert coaching at the Blues with many going on to play for Ipswich Town’s women’s side as well representing England at youth level.

But the best female youngsters in the area now face an anxious future after the FA withdrew the licence for 18 “high-profile” centres across the country.

The Ipswich Town Charitable Trust, which runs the centre of excellence, insisted it would continue to offer high quality coaching despite “the FA’s best efforts to disrupt our existing provision”.

Matthew Try, operations director for the trust, said: “The trust has received the disappointing and frustrating news that after 10 years of supporting the best young female footballers within Suffolk, we were not successful in securing one of the new FA Girls Centre of Excellence licenses for the 2011/12 season.


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“Unfortunately, we have been one of several high-profile centres of excellence not to be handed a new license despite the best efforts of the staff involved who had put forward an excellent case for us to be included.

“Other high-profile casualties include Fulham, Charlton, Watford and Reading, all of whom have an excellent and long-standing track record, alongside our own at Ipswich, in the delivery of high-end girls football.”

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The trust was running centre of excellence sessions twice a week at Portman Road and had about 50 girls on the course. From there, a squad was formed to play in an eastern region league along with Arsenal, Colchester, Watford, MK Dons, Northampton, Norwich, Cambridge and Luton.

The FA revealed that the decision to cut the 50 centres of excellence nationwide to 32 – as well as create a further 30 Player Development Centres – comes after a “robust” 18-month consultation process.

A spokesman said: “This restructure has resulted in some existing FA Centres of Excellence no longer receiving an FA licence as their application was not as strong as others in their locality.

“The FA is personally communicating with all these centres individually as to these reasons. We sympathise with all the players and staff who will be affected by this restructure and will help identify opportunities which enable them to continue accessing appropriate levels of coaching and support.”

The decision will not affect Town’s existing centre of excellence for boys.

n Are you affected by the FA’s decision to axe Town’s centre of excellence? What do you think about the decision? Let us know via dave.gooderham@archant.co.uk

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