Ottery ladies on a positive pathway

Ottery St Mary Girls

Ottery St Mary Girls - Credit: Archant

Ottery ladies on a positive pathway

Promotion and an appearance in the FA Cup has been the culmination of a successful player pathway for Ottery St Mary Ladies Football Club.

The building blocks to that success has been a clear route of progression for young girls taking their first steps in the game.

“We see Ottery St Mary as a complete football club and that means putting a pathway in place for the male and female player,” said Ottery Chairman Mikey Ringer.

“We’ve always had a strong female youth side and it was the reason I first came into the club.

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“The Under-16 girls were making the transition to adult football in 2016 and I’ve progressed from managing the ladies team to becoming chairman.

“The girls have been together now for four seasons and they’ve gone from suffering heavy defeats to winning promotion, and the ultimate achievement of playing in the Women’s FA Cup.

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“I stepped away as manager to concentrate on the club as a whole and Andrew Braddick has taken it on to the end of this season, and then we’ll decide where we go next.”

The key element that bodes so well for the future of the women’s team at Ottery is a strong youth system.

There is a genuine passion and enthusiasm among the group, with the success of England Lionesses an inspiration to the younger players.

However, there is some concern that funding at the top of the game has not filtered down.

“We have three different youth sides for the girls, Under-16s, 14s and 12s,” said Ringer.

“Everything we do at the club is about having a proper pathway and it is the enthusiasm that drives them through.

“The success of the Lionesses has been help at a tournament level but I do think the money piled into the Super League has damaged the game lower down the pyramid.

“There has been talk of scrapping some leagues and ladies’ teams just playing friendly fixtures, which is no good for anyone.

“Players like Lucy Bronze have been an inspiration but if you ask our players about who plays for teams in the Women’s Super League, most of them wouldn’t have a clue.

“Part of the problem is a lack of exposure on mainstream TV.”

The next step for Ottery Ladies is to introduce a second team, adding a further element to that pathway.

Whatever happens though, it will be the bond of togetherness throughout the club that will guarantee success.

“The vision for our club is to ensure the ladies team is run in the same way as the men,” added Ringer.

“We want to be a premier club in East Devon, with sides competing at the highest level possible.

“Over the next year or two, we’re hoping to bring in a second team to support the ladies’ structure.

“Football always has to be about fun, whatever the level, but there is a serious side, which is about progression for the ladies.

“They thoroughly enjoyed the honour of playing in the FA Cup. “We have a healthy rivalry with other local clubs and they are very passionate about their performance in training and games.

“We’ve got girls in the squad that had never kicked a ball before but they just love being involved, and learning the game.

“It is very much girls together and football brings a release from the pressures of normal life, which is a factor that I would say is more apparent on the female side.

“They are a very tight-knit group of players. “They are friends, first and foremost.

“The growth of the female game is so important and we see the togetherness through the club.

“It is not just a match-day, players will utilise the club for a social aspect. “The female players will help out on a match-day for the men, and the male players also do a lot of work behind the scenes.

“We are a football club that takes pride in being part of the community.

“We start that journey from a young age and girls playing in our youth system now will develop into senior players.”

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