Looking to build on the success and much-talked-about World Cup “bounce,” is Sheffield Wednesday Ladies, and it seems to be working after their recent record turnout in pre-season trials.
The blue and whites, managed by David Higgins, will be playing in the North East Regional league this season, after finishing mid table in their last campaign, two leagues below the coveted Women’s Super League.
However the Owls are hoping to emulate the success of Sheffield FC, who confirmed their place in the WSL in June and Doncaster Rovers Belles, who are currently battling it out at the top of WSL 2.
“I want to see us moving up the leagues over the next couple of years. We are taking all the right steps to turn this club into what we hope will be one of the best female clubs in the country,” explained David, who took over the head coaching role in 2011.
“It’s going to take a lot of hard work but we look to other clubs in the region as inspiration, especially Sheffield FC.
“What they have achieved over a relatively short space of time is incredible and I’m going to take advice off Helen Mitchell (Sheffield manager) about making sure our first team has the right balance of youth and experience.
“We are very prepared for this season and have brought in four experienced players which will hopefully help us get promotion”
Wednesday had previously been a leading light in the women’s game, helping develop World Cup Lioness heroine Jo Potter, former England internationals – midfielder Vicky Exley, and goal keeper Leanne Hall who both started their careers with Wednesday.
However after financial difficulties and behind-the -scene issues, the club was forced to fold the first team in 2011 and rebuild from the ashes, starting from the lowest division in the WSL pyramid.
“We were one of the biggest and most successful sides in the region, however behind the scenes things were a mess,” said David, who was the U18 manager at the time.
“In the next five years if things go our way we could be pushing to get into WSL 2. We have the right structure and development pathways which will help youth come through and be guided by experienced players.”
The future looks bright for the club, who boast an impressive 11 junior sides and three adult teams, and captain Emily Higgins, David’s 22-year-old daughter, wants the city to get right behind the women’s game.
“I’m very proud to be a female footballer after the performances England displayed in Canada and finally it’s starting to get the profile and credit it deserves,” said Emily, who joined the club at 11 years old.
“However I still feel a lot more needs to be done as there are only a handful of England players who are getting paid a decent amount so hopefully this city and the country will get behind the sport.”
“Wednesday has the potential to be the biggest club in the region and we have a lot to offer, so I hope young players decide to join us. But also we would love to have more supporters coming down to watch us.”
Currently the first, reserves and development squads al train at the SWFC Training Ground, Middlewood Road with all home games taking place at Sheffield Hallam University Sports Park.
For more information and latest news about the club visit: http://www.sheffieldwednesdayladies.co.uk/