Blackpool FC Girls & Ladies started back in 2004, when three teams were formed to compete in the Lancashire FA Girls League.
The first trials were held at Easter 2004, with almost 100 players attending to make up two teams. With such a wealth of talent on show it was decided that we would start with three teams: two Under 12 teams (an "A" and "B" squad) and an Under 11s team.
The teams entered the Lancashire FA Leagues for their respective age, competing against Manchester United, Preston North End, Burnley, Bolton Wanderers and Everton.
With all three Blackpool FC teams finishing in the top half, the opening season was deemed a great success. Each year the structure has grown steadily and we are now able to offer football to females aged five to open age. Starting out with around 30 players in 2004, a decade later we have over 140 players. Our competitive teams range from U9s through to our Ladies First Team, we also have a Development Centre for girls aged 5–10 years-old to come and improve their skills and meet new friends.
In 2008, we set up our first ladies team, a lot of these players fed through from our U16ss that season who were originally part of the Under 12 side where it all began.
We’ve had a lot of success with players going through our youth system then going onto play for the first team. Currently, we have two ladies teams to accommodate players feeding through year after year. Currently the Ladies First Team squad and Reserve Team squad are aged 16–21; two very young squads, who are developing very well under the guidance of the dedicated volunteer coaches we have.
Importantly, the Ladies' squads are offering competitive football at County and Regional level. Making it ideal for players to come and learn the game at County Level, with the more experienced players to play at a good standard in the North West Women’s Premier Division. In the first three seasons the ladies achieved three back-to-back promotions and now compete at Step 4 in the Women’s game.
The Ladies have also been close to getting promoted to the National structure in the previous two seasons and have missed out on a league title and promotion (only the winner of a division gets promoted). They have had great support from Blackpool FC chairman Karl Oyston, to ensure the Ladies will be able to succeed when they reach that level.
We will be looking to add further teams at youth level to ensure we accommodate all Girls and Ladies of all abilities in Blackpool.
BFC Girls & Ladies Department is run on a voluntary basis, led by Head Coach Michael Corser and Assistant Head Coach Mac Barlow, along with a strong team of qualified, committed volunteer coaches.
In an interview with Assistant Head Coach Mac Barlow, she told us: "It’s fantastic to see how far we have come and grown in such a short space of time. We are very proud of what we have built up and the ambitions we have to take it to the next level. We’ve had fantastic support from Karl Oyston since day one and hopefully his support will continue for many more years to come.
"We will continue to keep building from the bottom and get girls playing at a younger age through our Development Centre and Youth setup. That’s worked very well for us over the years; we now have girls as young as five attending our sessions which is fantastic to see and bodes well for the future of Blackpool FC Girls and Ladies.
"What we’ve always had at this Club is stability, the right people at the top with a wealth of experience and knowledge of the female game, everyone is here for the right reasons to retain, grow and most of all develop female footballers," she added.
A parents view.....
When you have daughters grassroots football isn’t something you expect to become involved with. Our daughter, as some do, had tried her luck playing football with the boys and enjoyed it. The intervention of an eagle eyed dinner lady seeing her kicking a ball around pointed her in the direction of Blackpool FC Girls and Ladies development group. Within months the girls had played on a Premier League ground (Ewood Park) and reached the first tournament final (BJFF2010).
After attending the annual trials she earned a place in the under 11s squad. Four years on she is still at the club, developing as a footballer and making new friends within the game. As a watching parent I can only say that to see these girls develop individually and collectively is to the credit of their enthusiastic, knowledgeable, hard working coaches. Long may it continue!
Anyone interested in finding out more about Blackpool FC Girls and Ladies should contact Club Secretary Mac Barlow on 07944621067 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.