Helping young girls to play football and realise their true potential is the top goal of Penwortham Town Football Club.
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Four years ago, parent and football coach Lee Kershaw began a ladies team and now there are more than 80 members in the young girls team and 40 players in the open age adults team.
Lee, 39, of Leyland, says: “I had been coaching men and women and realised there were a lot of women who played, especially with the success of the England ladies team.
“So I thought our club could so something. I set up a ladies team in 2014 and it has grown from strength to strength. I wanted a pathway for younger girls so we coach girls from age three all the way through. That team started in August last year.
“My two daughters, aged 10 and eight, play. I didn’t realise they were interested in football but they had seen me coaching men and ladies.
I see girls who were really shy and couldn’t kick a ball, and they really come out of their shell.Lee Kershaw
“I have tried to make it very friendly. We accept any ability.
“The girls come for friendship and enjoy getting together. It also boosts their confidence. I see girls who were really shy and couldn’t kick a ball, and they really come out of their shell.
“I have eight girls teams going into the league next season which is massive, considering the girls team was only set up in August.”
The girls and ladies teams have seen great success since their inception.
The ladies team won the Lancashire FA Women’s County Premier League this year and the season before they got to the county cup final.
Lee adds: “They got promoted in the first season and that is why we had to get two teams. We have done really well in only three seasons for such a small club.
“The ladies will be going into the North West Regionals next season. It is a hard task, but we are looking forward to it.
“Our successes would not be possible without our coaches. We have Jayne Billington, who helped to set up the ladies team, and Ian Winston.
“We also have a couple of players in the ladies team who coach the girls and some parents also coach.”
The Penwortham Town Girls football team had their first awards presentation last month, with special guests Deepdale Duck and Gail Newsham, who wrote about the Dick, Kerr Ladies team.
Mark Nicholls, who organised the event and has a daughter at the club, adds: “We had a mystery guest appearance from Deepdale Duck – many thanks to him, he gave up his Friday evening to attend and the girls were in raptures when he walked through the door. The girls had a photo opportunity with him and he socialised amongst the quests.
“Having both guests was a real scoop for us and Gail has to be commended.
“She was so interesting and down to earth, the girls sat quietly as she told stories of her own past and of the history of Dick Kerr Ladies.
“The girls also attended a charity match between Progress Housing and Man City Legends in Leyland where they took part in a half-time penalty shootout in aid of the UK homelessness charity Shelter.
“The club is great for aspiring footballers.
“My daughter, Violet Nicholls, has recently joined the club. She has developed new skills, made some great new friends and she has definitely become more confident.
“The club’s philosophy is simple – to develop football skills, encourage friendships, grow confidence and team work, all done through a fun and friendly environment.
“We definitely need more players and it’s a great opportunity for the girls to start/improve a new sport and also to keep active.
“Training for the girls team is on a Thursday evening from 6pm until 7pm at Penwortham Priory, Crows Hill Road.”
Penwortham Town Football Club, which was set up in 1977, is based in Factory Lane, Penwortham.
To find out more visit www.penworthamtownfc.com.