Hugely popular across West Riding, Weetabix Wildcats is safe, fun and friendly football for girls aged 5-11, delivered by The FA qualified coaches and volunteers.
It’s non-competitive football for girls who want to give it a go for the very first time or want to play with other girls their own age. Most importantly, Weetabix Wildcats is all about having loads of fun and meeting new amazing friends.
Here, we catch up with local club Goole Town Tigers JFC to get a behind-the-scenes look at their Weetabix Wildcats sessions, and hear about the impact it's had so far on the young girls taking part...
How did you hear about Weetabix Wildcats?
We found out about Wildcats through the emails from The FA.
Why did your club decide to apply?
We were asked if we had places for girls to come and play football but we found that by only having three girls' teams, we weren’t covering enough age groups. We would offer the girls a place on one of our mixed teams, but for most girls it was a bit daunting going onto a team of boys when they themselves hadn’t played before. As a club, we are proud that we make football affordable and accessible to all children so we wanted to be able to offer more girls the opportunity to play on a girls-only team, so thought that by applying to become a Weetabix Wildcats provider, we would be able to offer a broader age range of girls a fun place to start playing football, learn some skills and most importantly make friends. Then, when they felt ready, they could move to one of our girls teams, or if we didn’t have their age group, we would have enough girls to make another team, expanding our girls teams within our club.
How did you find the application process?
I managed the application well I think but if at any point I struggled, I knew that I could ask Steve from the WRCFA to help me if needed.
What did you think to the training?
The training was informative and convenient with it being online.
How did you advertise your sessions?
We advertise our Wildcats sessions on our social media page, local social media groups, and the local newspaper. We also have a Wildcats poster up in our football container and I contacted local primary schools and asked if they could add our flyer to their newsletter.
How have your sessions gone since you started delivering and what impact are they having at your club?
The sessions are going really well so far. We have 27 girls registered, a couple of the older girls have moved over to our under-12 girls' team now they have found their confidence after learning football skills at Wildcats. We have enough girls to make another under-10 girls' team who in their words “are wanting to play matches” now so we're hoping for a parent to want to take the team on and become a coach and get them entered in to the WRGFL shortly. As a club this has only been a positive, we are able to offer football to more girls and they are not only learning football skills they are developing their social skills, their confidence is growing they are meeting friends they maybe would never have met increasing their friendship circle.
Would you encourage other clubs to apply for Wildcats and what reasons would you give for them to do so?
Absolutely. Now, more than ever, the benefits of being engaged in sport are crucial for physical, social and mental well-being, not just for the girls but their parents/guardians too, for some this may be the only time they get out. Whilst our Wildcats are having fun in their training sessions, the adults are enjoying watching them participate whilst socialising with the other adults on the side-line. The support you receive from your CFA is brilliant.
Steve Conboy, West Riding County FA Football Development Officer, said:
"I visited Goole Town Tigers to see their Wildcats session in action and I have nothing but admiration for the commitment and the professionalism of their volunteers.
"Club Welfare Officer Lisa Huntington and Treasurer Rebecca Thompson were both on hand welcoming and signing in the girls with Chair Paul Challenger, assisted by coach Kirsty Eastwood, running the football session so it really shows the level of importance placed on the programme by the club.
The girls were all excited to be there and were obviously having lots of fun which is testament to the environment created by the club. The club really are a perfect example of how a programme like Weetabix Wildcats can benefit both the club and its local community."
To find out more about Goole Tigers JFC and get in touch, head over to their Facebook page here.