"Eventually, we had 60 girls across three teams, and our journey began."
"When I took over as Chairman in 2014, Lymm Rovers FC only ran one female 5-a-side team. At this point, we had interest from 14 teenage girls who wanted to play football but had been refused entry to boys' teams in the area. We wanted to create a welcoming environment for all females to play, so we decided to create a Girls' Academy.
The Girls' Academy started with the belief and mantra that no one should be judged, and people should enjoy learning the art and skill of football. The word soon spread, and we had girls arriving aged from 5 to 13 wanting to join the team. We made the decision that no one was turned away.
Eventually, we had 60 girls across three teams, and our journey began.
Our next project was the creation of a mothers' football team which began in the 2015/2016 season. Each week we were joined by 15 women aiming to improve their mental health, fitness and football skills. By 2016/2017 participation in the team had more than doubled to 35 women attending, with many stating their mental health and wellbeing had improved significantly since joining, something we are incredibly proud of.
At this time we demonstrated our commitment to growing our club by teaming up with the Cheshire FA. We developed a Young Leaders Programme to ensure our players could follow pathways in football, whether it is a career in coaching, refereeing or pursuing their dream of becoming a professional footballer.
The club continued to grow, and three of our Under 18 female players were selected to play in the Under 18's male youth teams – a first for league and County FA. This resulted in us being recognised for our inclusiveness with the Outstanding Club Award from the league.
Throughout 2018/2019 we saw our number of participants double. In the traditional 'drop-off' age groups of U14-18, were able to provide two teams which were a massive achievement for us and ensured all girls were given a chance to play competitively.
We showed our solidarity to the women's game by rebranding our club to 'ONE CLUB, ONE SEASON'.
Every male and female team wore the same match day and training kit, giving equal prominence and opportunities to play. One of my proudest moments was last year at our female U15 County Cup game where we had four of our male teams, parents and players watching and cheering on the team to success. At that
moment, it felt we had achieved our 'One Club' mantra.
This season has been exceptional, and we continue to grow. We now have 200 females involved ranging from age 5 to 72. With 25 male teams and 25 female teams, Lymm Rovers FC truly is one club."
Gavin Laidlaw, Chairman, Lymm Rovers FC