Craven Girls Gala

New Playing Opportunity for Girls in Craven

On Sunday 13th August the Craven, Aire & Wharfe Junior league embarked upon a new venture to add a girls football offer to their league.

Using their own development funds, the Craven league hired Marley Stadium 3G pitch to host a girls gala for 5-10 year olds and they were delighted to see girls attending from Skipton Juniors, Bradford City, Eldwick Juniors & Wilsden Juniors & WestWood Juniors.

Over the years it has been a common response from clubs in the region to say that they are unable to form girls teams due to the large travelling distances to play in the existing girls leagues so this new venture from the league will hopefully address this issue and see a boom in girls football in the Craven region.

The galas will be held monthly and the league are keen to stress that, although 5 aside, clubs will be encouraged to send whatever number of girls they have available even if only 1 girl can attend.  Individuals with no club attachment will also be encouraged to attend with these girls slotting into existing teams or, if the numbers are good, forming a Craven representative team for the day.

The parent of one such girl who attended as an individual, Jonathan Cotterill-Bolsover,  had this to say about the event:

“Just wanted to say thank-you for yesterday.  Helena really enjoyed it.  Love what you are doing, certainly the right way to go. Lots of game time for the girls and good mix of abilities.  The way you did it stopped the huge defeats that new teams often have and get put off football for.  Definitely the future!”

On top of this new league offer, Mark Brier of Soccer Elite will be running a Player Development Centre for girls also at Marley Stadium on Monday evening’s from 11th September to support those girls looking to take their football to the next level whilst still being able to play for their grassroots club.

Craven Aire & Wharfe League Secretary, Lee Maran, said “The Girls Gala was a huge step for the league to support girls football. All Girls loved the opportunity to take part in the Gala without the many hours travelling which has been a common problem for teams in the Craven area. We have been contacted by many clubs now interested in setting up girls teams. Many parents at the Gala expressed how happy they are to attend local girls events rather than spending the whole day travelling. We hope with such a positive start we can progress and develop girls football with our league boundaries with the support of all our league clubs."

Skipton Juniors Coach, Anita Hoggarth, also spoke about the galas:  All our girls really enjoyed it yesterday.  The galas are brilliant for encouraging girls into football whatever their ability. We took our U10's team and also a 6 year old girl who has never played before. To see how she developed and enjoyed the session joining in and mixing with all the teams was fantastic.  They are always great fun and the girls learn loads from learning new skills and playing in games. To have local galas in the Craven area is an amazing opportunity for all local clubs to strengthen girls football within their own clubs. Hopefully this will lead to more girls teams in our area meaning we can all have a league locally to compete in.  Skipton Juniors will be supporting the galas and I do hope other local clubs will come along and join in the fun! It would be brilliant to reduce the miles we have to travel for girls to compete in a sport they all love! Well done to all the girls who came along whether with a club or not it was good to see you all having fun playing football”

WRCFA’s Women & Girls Development Officer had this to say:  “Since coming into post just over a year ago I made mini soccer my priority across the county by assisting the WRGFL to increase their gala offer and by introducing the gala concept to the Harrogate Girls League of which they delivered 10 of over the course of last season.  The introduction of the same gala concept by what is predominately a boys league and in an area underrepresented for girls football is a massive plus for boosting the number of girls playing football.”

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