If you look at the FA Women’s Premier – Midlands Division 1 table, you might be led to believe that Rotherham United's season isn’t quite going to plan, but a lot more is happening around the club than you might expect!
By Julian Barker
At the start of the season, solidifying the team’s position in the division and looking to improve the squad was the primary focus for Chair and Manager Val Hoyle. It was during a pre-season game that changed that focus slightly when the club spotted an opportunity with two locally based managers from Dronfield Town. After seeing the changes and improvements that had been made at Dronfield over a short period of time, discussions and interviews took place and the club appointed James Leggitt and Chris Sanders as joint first team managers for the upcoming season.
It signified a change in direction for the club. The aim wasn’t now just to solidify the position within the division but to build a foundation to move forward over the next 5 years.
While there have been small changes on the pitch in terms of personnel and playing style, the management team have been hard at work setting those foundations that will serve the club as required. Results on the pitch have not always gone to plan but there are clear signs that the team is moving in the right direction and life at Roundwood Pavilion (the home ground shared with men’s team Parkgate FC and Rotherham United Academy) is certainly getting better.
Behind the scenes there has been plenty of work to improve the image and local stature of the club as a whole. Added to the existing off the field staff of Chris, James and UEFA B coach Simon Darke, have been Sheffield FC First Team Goalkeeper Chris Butt as a dedicated GK Coach, Sarah Cowin joins the club as 1st Team Physio, Leon Dearns has joined as dedicated strength and fitness coach and last but not least Dan Waldron has joined as PR and Media expert.
A new website (www.rulfc.com), twitter (@RULFC_official) and Facebook (facebook.com/RotherhamUnitedLadiesFC) have been introduced to promote the team to give them a wider reach around the region and the league itself, this is only the first step on the ladder for the club and key links have been renewed with the Rotherham United Community Support Trust manager Jamie Noble. Also, the support of the U-18s' manager David Corke has been huge and lead to 5 current players progressing into the first team setup.
This new social media presence has already started to pay dividends with more enquiries coming in each week about games, new player interest, new links to local ladies and girl’s teams and even further afield with a request from a player within the LA Galaxy organisation to come along to some training sessions whilst she was in the country.
So, while on the face of it the league table may not be the prettiest, there are certainly massive steps being taken in the background to forge links in and around the community to create a pathway for girls of all ages to progress up the football pyramid and into a successful local ladies team that may just one day reach that utopia of the FA Women’s Super League!
The U-18s are at home this coming Saturday 11th February against Doncaster Belles, 10.30am KO, Kiveton Park, S26 6SQ, looking to keep their unbeaten record going and get one step closer to the title.
The first team are at home this Sunday 12th February against current league leaders Loughborough Foxes, 2pm KO.
For any further information regarding games, players, sponsorship or any general enquiries please contact the club on firstname.lastname@example.org or via social media.
Neither are workable or likely at present but hypothetically, would you prefer a more strict salary cap in the FA WSL OR should centrally contracted England players (that receive salaries from The FA) be allocated more evenly around WSL1 clubs?