On Thursday 4th April, Aylesbury United Ladies & Girls FC hosted the Female Futures in Sport careers event for players across the Bucks county. Sub-titled “Kick-off your career and turn your passion for football into your job”, the event featured guest speakers from Berks & Bucks FA, Milton Keynes College, Bucks Sports Academy, GPS Oxford Academy and the University of Bedfordshire who shared their experiences and offered advice on the different pathways and career options available.
The evening was opened by Ellen Hopkins, Women’s & Girls’ Development Officer for Berks & Bucks FA, who described the various developmental options and support available to female players from the county FA. “It’s great to see clubs like Aylesbury United promoting the female game and providing an evening to support players on their pathway,” said Ellen. “We’re keen to get more clubs to do something similar, so we will definitely be using this event as best practice across the region.”
Dawn Mallett, former WSL player and Lead Tutor at Milton Keynes College, talked about her playing career and posed for photos with her FA Cup Player of the Round trophy. Next up was Ben Williams, Manager of Aylesbury United FC, who announced that Bucks Sports Academy will be launching a new female football academy based in Aylesbury. Amy Taylor and Christian Lawrence from GPS Oxford announced that they, too, are developing a female football academy to run alongside their established male academy. Finally, David Pears from the University of Bedfordshire talked about the higher education opportunities available to girls interested in pursuing a career in the sports industry.
The keynote speaker for the night was Di Cunningham, Chair of Pride in Football and co-founder of Three Lions Pride, who inspired the girls with her talk on the history of women’s football and her experiences of following England at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. “What a testament to new inclusive paths into coaching and other football careers for women,” said Di. “I hope that other regional FAs are inspired to follow.”
This was the first time that such an event had been organised and everyone left feeling inspired about the future opportunities for the next generation of female footballers. “Thank you for organising the event,” said Henry Milner, Manager of Chesham United U12 Girls. “It made my daughter feel that a career in football is real and that there are so many options available to her.”
Thank you to all the players, parents and presenters who attended the event, and a special thank you to Florence Nightingale Hospice Charity for kindly hosting the event and to Mike Snell for taking the photos. You can view the photos here.