As activity with our new women’s team gathers pace, we caught up with manager Dale Houlston ahead of our first trial. Saturday will see us welcome a large number of eager players to our training ground, all hoping to secure a place in the Grimsby Town Women’s team.
How are things looking ahead of the trials Dale and what are the numbers like?
Well we’ve had a large number of people register for the trials which is a good starting point. When I look at the list of players that we have, they come from various levels of football and there is a good mix of youth and experience. It’s important now that we give everybody a fair opportunity to impress and equal consideration. It’s important to me that everyone is treated fairly.
What is the trial going to consist of?
Well broadly speaking it will consist of a game related situation, and it is important to recognise that some players have highlighted that they can play in more than one position. So once again, on the day it is important to allow them the opportunity to play in all of their positions during the trial.
Are you able to give us some idea of where these players have come from? Are they already playing football for other teams?
We have got players from all sorts of areas within a reasonable travelling distance, and as you would expect plenty from Grimsby and Cleethorpes. Most of the players have been playing for other teams, but I think that the prospect of playing for a big club like Grimsby is exciting, particularly for those that live nearby. I suppose when a professional EFL club decides to enter the world of women’s football, it is always going to get a great deal of attention, and of course there are a lot of benefits of being involved as a player at a resourceful football club. But I think we also need to understand that for some, this can mean changing clubs, and that can be an emotive subject. With that in mind it’s important that we are sensitive and understanding and that we do everything we can to talk with the players, to make sure they are making the right decision in joining us. Not only the right decision for us, but also importantly for them.
So what are the benefits to a player thinking of joining Grimsby Town Football Club?
There is a lot of work taking place in the world of women’s football, but sadly there is still often a big price to pay for women wishing to join a football club. Whether that is in paying subs to play and train every week, or financing kit and equipment, or even travel. I hear horror stories all of the time, where players even have to go out and find individual sponsors or pay hundreds of pounds to be part of a team every season. I am not really sure why it should be like that, but I suppose that it is understandable when the burden of providing playing opportunities has often rested on the shoulders of small grassroots clubs.
Our approach is going to be different and we are well placed to make that difference. We want our players to feel valued by the club for their hard work, and so the club has decided that the least it can do is support them in representing the club. Let’s not get carried away here, as we aren’t talking about huge financial budgets anywhere near the scale of running a professional men’s team. But even at our level, not taking money off players and providing them with the use of the club minibus is enough to make a big welcome difference to them. Our players will be fully appreciative of things like this; it will give them a sense of belonging and being part of a great football club.
It isn’t just about weekly subs or paying for your training kit either. It goes further than that. First and foremost the real value will be in the level of coaching that we are going to be offering that provides players with everything they need for their development. We are going to be providing UEFA certified football coaches working around our playing philosophy.
It’s often the little things that matter and I get the sense that there is a real excitement building amongst people. For some that excitement will be the opportunity to play at Blundell Park, or even be featured in the matchday programme every week. For others it might just be the interaction with the tremendous fan base that Grimsby Town has, whether that is around the ground on a matchday, or at club events including the forthcoming family day at Blundell Park.
But enjoying all of these benefits is one thing, let’s not forget that the important thing is that first and foremost we are football team, and we have to quickly learn to do the business out on the pitch, and we will have a lot of enjoyment doing so.
So following the trial, does that mean the door is shut to players wishing to join later on?
Absolutely not. I am aware of players that are still thinking about coming along. For whatever reasons they haven’t made that step yet. But that’s okay. It might be out of a sense of loyalty to their existing club, which I think should be commended; or perhaps a nervousness of something new. But I would like them to be aware that door is always open for players to come and have a chat, or join in at one of our training sessions at any stage in the future. It is a really friendly environment, we are always approachable and I am always keen to talk to women with a real interest in football.
Please CLICK HERE if you would like a trial with our Women’s team.