Girls’ Emerging Talent Centres across the nation aim to increase and diversify the talent pool and give more girls than ever the chance to take their first steps on the pathway towards playing professional football and following in the footsteps of the inspirational Lionesses.
Our Emerging Talent Centre (ETC) programme is designed to be a central hub for local talented female players and will work in partnership with grassroots clubs to ensure the offer is beneficial to grassroots players. The ETC work with grassroots clubs, schools, and local coaches to identify talented female players for this elite training experience. The aim is to identify and develop future potential players by providing local, accessible high-quality training environments. ETCs offer varied football formats, increased playing time, and allow their players to play for both an Emerging Talent Centre and a grassroots club, school, or representative team, which we hope will enhance the variety of playing experiences. Blackpool FC Community Trust are delighted to work closely with LionTrust who are continuing to sponsor the programme again in the new season.
This week we welcomed players and parents from our Under 10s, Under 12s, Under 14s and Under 16s to the Matthews Hospitality Suite at Bloomfield Road for an Induction Night to explain what the ETC programme is and talk through standards and expectations for the season. The programme includes outfield coaching sessions, strength and conditioning sessions and goalkeeper-specific sessions to develop each player and ensure they reach their potential.
Last season our girls played against a wide range of opponents from across the Northwest including Manchester United, Manchester City, Blackburn Rovers, Preston North End and Burnley. We also challenged them to play against boys/mixed teams in various formats including futsal fixtures. This ensures that all our girls are suitably challenged and learn from a varied games programme.
This season we hope to repeat our successes from last season and to further build on our experiences. We aim to give the girls lifelong memories and experiences they cannot get elsewhere. One challenge for our staff is beginning to highlight our best players for the England Lioness Player Pathway and England Lioness Youth Squads.
In addition to the ETC, Blackpool FC Community Trust deliver a wide range of female football sessions for all abilities. In these sessions, we can highlight players who have exceptional ability and invite them to join the ETC programme, strengthening our groups.
On Monday evenings we run Future Lioness Development Centres for outfield players aged Under 8 to Under 14s, as well as our brand-new Girls Goalkeeper Development Centre for girls aged Under 9 to Under 12s. In addition to this, we run Friday evening FA Wildcats sessions for girls of all abilities aged five to 11 who are new to football and would like extra training sessions. Our Girls Football Camps take place each school holidays, girls can attend these sessions regardless of what grassroots team they play for.
Andy Aspinall, Female Football Development Manager at Blackpool FC Community Trust said,
“Over the last 18 months, the Female Football department has been working extremely hard to create opportunities and sessions for girls of all ages and abilities. All these sessions feed into the Girls Emerging Talent Centre, as we develop local players to become a part of our elite girls’ programme.
“Last year was extremely successful with victories over Manchester United ETC and Manchester City RTC, and we are looking forward to building on that success this season. Our groups are all much stronger than they were last season, and we cannot wait to get started.”