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Aliyah Anthony, Head of Women’s Football at Oxford City FC, discusses the club’s new direction to support female football provisions and pathways in Oxfordshire
It’s difficult to believe one year has passed since Chloe Kelly netted in injury time to secure England’s first European Championship at a sold-out Wembley Stadium.
England’s triumph on July 31, 2022, will go down as one of the great sporting moments of our generation. Equally, the achievements of that day continue to play a significant role in the development of women’s football and female sporting provisions across the country.
With the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup well underway across Australia and New Zealand, a little closer to home preparations for the 23/24 season at Oxford City FC are taking shape nicely in partnership with Ignite Sport.
We’ve made several key changes through the off-season all with a view to enhancing our commitment to supporting players’ development from foundation level upwards.
Luke Hanshaw, formerly of MK Dons, has agreed to become our first-team manager while Chris Smith has been appointed to oversee our development squad. Their experience coupled with a real desire to support our female programmes will be invaluable moving forwards.
Personally, I was thrilled to accept a new role as Head of Women’s Football with the club back in May. It will allow my team and I greater bandwidth to take that step back and invest our time in overseeing all aspects of the new operation from player development to strengthening the pathway between our youth squads and senior teams.
Owing to a sharp rise in the number of girls wanting to play football in a formal environment last summer, we’ve also expanded the number of teams we’ll operate this season. Four new squads have been created (U8s, U9s, U10s and U11s) to play in the Oxford Girls Football League with space for 18 players in each team.
Another area of focus for Luke, Chris, myself and our part-time coaches is our player pathway. Already this season, we have members of our U18s and U16s squads trialling with the first team.
By nurturing those with outstanding qualities, we hope to create a system where female players can aspire to fulfil their true potential within the grounds of the RAW Charging Stadium.
Of course, results are an important aspect of any sports setup – be it professional, semi-professional or amateur.
This season, though, our priority sits with developing our players and squads to operate to the best of their ability. That said, our first team has every reason to be competitive in the Southern Regional Women’s Football League with our Development squad competing in the Thames Valley Counties.
The last year especially has been a whirlwind for women’s football and signs of its exponential growth show no signs of stopping. Watching young players develop their skillset, confidence and friendships with their teammates is a real privilege and one of the main drivers behind my passion for sports coaching and leadership.
On the one-year anniversary of England’s European Championship triumph, my colleagues at Oxford City FC and Ignite Sport can be proud of the steps we have taken to enhance our female provisions.
Our principle partners M&M Waste Solutions have been at the heart of this, and we thank Group Managing Director Rob Fluckiger and his team for their continued support.
Let’s make 2023-24 a season to remember!
Aliyah Anthony, Head of