Crick’s female footballers reveal their love for their club and the game

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Women’s sport, and football in particular, is on the up with a greater national profile than ever.

The Crick Ladies football team was only formed back in April this year, but is already making an impact on those playing and training.

The team was created to encourage more girls and women to try the sport, and has been a success in that sense.

Already they have almost 20 people going along to their weekly Thursday evening training sessions.

Getting women to play sport after they leave school has been a tough ask for politicians and sports administrators. Women may go to the gym or out running, but often would not take up competitive sport.

But that has begun to change in recent years, with women athletes showcasing their sports and the public’s changing view of them, including women’s football.

Crick’s women’s club hit the headlines last month after a 34-0 defeat, but the story was not really the final score but how the women dealt with it and the praise given to them by the opposition side for their resilience and spirit.

Coach Ian Gidley said: “We have players aged up to their 40s, and we have 19 players registered for the league – but we have two who are pregnant, and sometimes people have family reasons why they can’t play, so we could do with more!

“Players have to be aged over 16 in league games, but they can train with us.

“It’s been an interesting time. Obviously we are a completely new team – some of the players haven’t played football before or for several years, they’re all getting to know each other still, and learning to play as a team.

“We knew we might not be winning every match, but it has been tough for some of the players.

“The thing is that even though we are a new team, we are still a team and the way the women support each other is fantastic. Yes, winning is nice, but it’s far more important to have fun and enjoy the sport!”

Helen Batho, 41, said: “I have two young boys that like football and come here to train.

“I hadn’t done sport for years. I did some in school but then I had a career and family and it became about trying to fit it all in.

“I was here with my boys one day and they didn’t have a coach, so I volunteered. I went on to get my FA qualification.

“I wanted my two boys to realise girls can do anything. They see their mum playing and teaching football. It gets them to understand you can’t not do something just because you’re a boy or girl.

“I love coming here. It’s a great group of girls.

“Ian got this group going not for glory or anything like that but to spread the love of football and sport.”

Leila Jennings, 22, said: “I helped start the group.

“I had started playing football for my school team, but by the time I started here I hadn’t played for around six years.

“I wanted to do it simply for fitness at first. But it’s more than that now. I didn’t have too many girls as friends, but now I’m meeting all these new people – it’s quite refreshing!

“We are trying to build the team up as a group so we are also organising events together that aren’t training!”

Helen said: “It can be difficult after a big defeat, but we didn’t think we’d be on top straight away. It’s not just about winning either – it’s about training and playing well together as a team, and enjoying it!”

Leila said: “Every girl, woman, should give it a go. Everyone who comes along to their first training session says ‘I’m sorry, I’m rubbish’ but no-one is rubbish – everyone has a skill they can bring to the team.

“You could just go along to a gym if you wanted to get fit, but here there are other people to meet and to talk to. There is a really good social aspect to it, compared to running on a treadmill with your earphones in.”

Georgina Yaxley, 16, said: “My dad coaches here so he asked me to come along at first.

“It’s great to meet all the different people here. There are all different ages and everyone’s background is different.”

Louise Parker, 40, said: “My son plays for the Crick Colts and I wanted to know more about football, and get a bit fitter as well.

“But it’s also improved my confidence a lot as well.

“It’s also handy because it fits in with when my son’s training here was well.

“It’s about so much more than playing league games – but we all want to win! We will be top of the league on day!”