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Women sign up at Bloomfields as Needham launch female side

EXCITING START: New women’s player-manager Freya Louis with academy director Robert Peace
EXCITING START: New women’s player-manager Freya Louis with academy director Robert Peace

Needham Market have joined a growing number of clubs in the region, as they launch a women’s football team ahead of the 2018/19 season.

More and more clubs across the country have been setting up female sides, with the sport on a rapid rise among women.

Academy director Robert Peace said now was the ‘perfect time’ for the club to join the national trend, with the opening of their new 3G pitch providing the necessary facilities for a women’s squad.

“It’s fantastic news,” he said. “Creating a women’s team has long been on the agenda as part of our development plan.

“But we had to wait until we had the facilities to increase our provisions.

“The 3G pitch has opened up these options – it came first but, as soon as we had it, we realised we could now offer women a great pitch to compete on.

“It just seemed like the perfect time to get the ball rolling.”

Midfielder Freya Louis has been named as player-manager of the new team and will be in her first official management role, with support from academy staff if requested.

Peace said Louis is ‘very organised’ but, crucially, is also ‘very knowledgeable’ about the women’s game and can provide invaluable insight as the club navigates through its first competitive season in any league.

The club have been accepted into the Women’s Division of the Suffolk Girls and Women’s Football League – positioned at Step 7 of the women’s football non-league league structure.

They will be competing against a Walsham-le-Willows women’s team among others.

The new team is currently made up of 12 players, with Peace aware they would benefit from two or three more players to provide viable substitutes.

“We’ve already held our trials and the quality is looking good,” he said.

“But we will need a few more to be strong for a whole season.

“I think it’s as much about raising awareness and getting the word out there that we’ve launched a women’s team.

“Hopefully once people know about it, we will easily find those few.”

He said the academy – which offers education between ages 16 to 19 alongside football training – will also be taking on three 16-year-old girls, who will train, play and study for a Level 3 BTEC extended diploma in sport alongside the 16-year-old boys.

“We’re very excited about this academy development,” Peace said.

“I’m driving it forward but, as a club, we want to just increase what we offer to the local community. And to ensure young women are involved in this as well.”

He said there were still a few spaces available on the course and he would ‘love to hear’ from any interested girls as well as prospective players, regardless of experience levels.

For more information, email Robert Peace on: robert.peace@needhammarketacademy.com

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