Katy Sandalls: Why youth players are the future of women’s football

Paige Peake has been called up for England Picture: ROSS HALLS

Paige Peake has been called up for England Picture: ROSS HALLS - Credit: Archant

Katy Sandalls looks at what Suffolk’s younger players have to offer and how important it is to ensure their future in women’s football.

Emily Heaslip, who has been appointed as fourth official for the Women�s International Friendly betw

Emily Heaslip, who has been appointed as fourth official for the Women�s International Friendly between England and Denmark on May 25. Picture: SUFFOLK FA - Credit: Archant

However, when I was thinking about what to write my column on this month, one cliché just stuck: The children are the future.

As clichéd and cheesy as that sounds its a phrase that is standing true here in Suffolk when we talk about women’s football.

Last month I talked about the investment going on in teams like AFC Sudbury. A streamlined path that will help players to continue their footballing journey in Suffolk.

As we’ve seen over the past year or so in this column women’s football has been growing both in terms of players getting involved and the crowds watching them.

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Surely then the cliché is true it is children and youth who will inherit this new brand of women’s football: one that is better supported, both financially and emotionally, than ever before.

Or that is the hope at least.

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Their are signs of hope that this could be the case; the growth of the Wildcats movement across Suffolk has made it easier than ever for girls to get involved in the game, learn more about football and get to grips with techniques.

The past month has seen a wave of growth in women’s football in terms of sponsorship; retailer Boots became the latest to join up with England’s women’s team.

Clubs like Ipswich Town are showing that they are producing youth teams which can challenge some of the biggest names in the country.

Their U21 team made it through to the semi final of the WSL academy cup having previously defeated Manchester City 4-1.

Sadly it wasn’t to be for the young tractor girls who lost out to women’s football powerhouse Arsenal but nevertheless their performance showed the talent being homed in Ipswich as they pushed their opponents to extra time.

To reach the semi-final having played sides that have some of the WSL’s biggest names behind them is something to be celebrated at every turn and shows some of the quality on offer in Suffolk.

Their labour’s were not in vain, however, as this week Eloise King and Paige Peake, who played in Sundays game , earned themselves England U17 call ups with Anna Grey in reserve.

A fantastic achievement at such a young age and one which can only signal a bright future.

Growth is also being seen in the Suffolk Women’s and Girls League which has made great strides forward in recent years.

Some of the league’s newest teams are showing great signs of promise including Needham Market.

With all this positivity, however, we have to remain realistic. The youth can only have this brighter future if we continue to provide the tools and guidance to allow this to happen.

Teams continue to fold because of financial problems and other commitment issues.

The news that Yeovil Town Ladies were going into relegation was one of the most heartbreaking things to hear.

The underdogs of the WSL the club had put so much effort into trying to stay in the league. They fought harder than most to convince the FA that they could continue.

The end of March saw a 10 point deduction for the club with staff also losing their jobs.

They are almost certain to be relegated this season.

The plight of The Glovers and other teams before them like Notts County in the past means that we still need to commit to women’s football.

We need to do so to ensure that the youth talent we see now get bigger and better opportunities than their predecessors and that our Suffolk players are able to enjoy these benefits as well.

Before I go a quick question regarding the nearer future: what will this summer hold for The Lionesses?

This week sees the first in a series of friendlies which will help prepare the team ahead of the World Cup.

Canada, Spain, Denmark and New Zealand will be the opponents for England to test themselves again as the squad play a range of stadiums across England.

Fran Kirby’s recent injury is a concern but with a strong group of players all vying for a place on the plane to France the games are sure to be a display of the strengths that England’s women have to offer.

There will also be a Suffolk interest in these senior game sin the form of Bury St Edmund’s Emily Heaslip, who will be the fourth official for England’s game against Denmark

Have you got a women’s football story to share? Get in touch via Twitter @katysandalls or by email katy.sandalls@archant.co.uk.

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