Scarborough Ladies FC have become the only all-female set-up in the North Riding County FA to be accepted as a Charter Standard Development Club.
Club chairman and under-16s manager James Hunter attributes to the hard-working committee behind the scenes at the club.
“Club secretary Colin Hepples, who manages the under-14s, put together a robust application for the status upgrade, along with help from our ten-strong committee,” said Hunter.
“We had to show we complied with a number of criteria, such as ensuring all staff are CRB checked, all coaches are qualified, having a sound financial background, and that we plan to develop the club further for the good of young people.
“The FA was extremely satisfied with our application and awarded us the upgrade.
“What it allows us to do is demonstrate to prospective players and their parents that we are a good club to be involved with.”
In 2012 the club’s long standing open age set-up disbanded, as its coaches stood down and the majority of players couldn’t fully commit to playing each week for a variety of reasons.
The club’s junior section continued to compete in the City of York Girls Football League. Hunter took over as chairman at the start of 2013 and hasn’t looked back.
“Natalie Davies, who had been at the club for many years, and chairman of four years Andy Dunn, left the club in late 2012.
“Although the open age side had gone by then, the club was in a sound position for future development,” recalls 35-year-old Hunter.
“Over the past year we have formed a settled committee of dedicated volunteers, a network of local sponsors – to whom we are extremely grateful – and a group of qualified coaches who focus on the most important thing in junior football – the enjoyment of the players themselves.
“We aren’t ‘in it to win it’. While it’s nice to take a trophy or two, I’m more interested in developing the players’ social skills and giving them a grounding in discipline, communication and how to prepare for the real world.
“It’s a like a fun classroom built around a sport they enjoy. Football can be an outlet for their teen angst, but also something that can help shape teenagers as good people.
“That’s what drives me and our other coaches to get up at 8am on a Saturday morning to make the 100-mile round trip to away games.
“And thankfully our girls respond and seem to enjoy their time representing the club just as much as I do.
“It makes me extremely proud to be part of something which means a lot to so many youngsters, and to see them enjoying their time with us.”
Next season the club is expanding the set-up, adding new teams including an under-18/19 set-up for the current under-16s players and an under-nines squad, and is on the lookout for new players, coaches and committee members.
“As any club or organisation grows, you need an influx of new people who buy in to your philosophy,” says Hunter.
“We have a club which is open, for the people of Scarborough to get involved in.
“We’d love to hear from prospective coaches, for whom we can provide funding for courses and the support of already qualified coaches.
“And also we’d love to hear from people who maybe want to help in other ways.
“You don’t have to have a daughter who plays football. I don’t, and this is my fifth season involved in the club.
“And most importantly, there’s an opportunity for every girl in Scarborough to get involved.
“Even if they just want to train with us for fitness and fun, and not play in matches. We have many girls who do that, and they are all part of the SLFC family.
“From the age of four upwards we have a spot for any girls who want to get involved. Come along and join in.”
As the club enters the final stages of the 2013-14 season, plans are afoot to grow the game even further in Scarborough and District.
“It’s been a steady growth since last summer, when we started new teams at under-12 and under-13 level, adding two teams to the four already in place,” added Hunter.
“The response was fantastic. More young females want to play football, and we are continually happy to be able to provide them that chance.
“Anyone can join in, and each girl is treated the same,