Women’s Team: Talented Youngster Joins Town

Grimsby Town Women sign talented young player Ava Houlston.

We are delighted to announce that our women’s team have signed 16-year-old talented midfield/forward Ava Houlston for the 2020/21 season. Ava is the daughter of women’s team manager Dale Houlston.

Speaking about the signing, player/coach Sophie Bartup told us: “We are delighted that Ava has joined us. She is an extremely talented young footballer who has had some amazing experiences during her junior football career. She spent the vast majority of her football education playing elite level girls’ football on the FA England Girls’ Talent Pathway. She had a number of call ups to England national elite training camps, as well as being involved in England school girls’, the East Midlands Regional School Girls squad, and she recently captained the Lincolnshire Schools FA Girls under 16’s squad. Ava has been training with the squad here for a number of weeks now and she hasn’t looked out of place at all”.

Ava commenced playing football at 6 years of age, playing grassroots football in Skegness. She was scouted and picked up by former Doncaster Rovers Belles and Manchester United Women’s coach Glen Harris, who at that time was technical director for Lincolnshire FA’s Girls’ Centre of Excellence. She spent two seasons at the centre before it closed down, before spending a further two seasons at Boston United Girls’ RTC and a season at Doncaster Rovers Belles RTC. More recently she has been playing as the only girl in a boys under 15’s team at Skegness Town, at the same time as playing for Cleethorpes Town under 15’s and under 16’s girls’.

We also caught up with women’s team manager Dale Houlston. It came as no surprise that whilst Dale was happy to discuss Ava’s arrival, he did so with modesty. He told us: “Ava is a good addition to the group, and naturally I am delighted that she is joining us. She is too by the way, as she has grown up around Blundell Park and is an absolute nutty Grimsby Town fan. So really it is a prime example of exactly what we are trying to do here with the female game, provide a pathway for talented girls’ in the area to represent the club. To be honest with you, the decision on where Ava made her first steps into adult football was completely down to her. She had other opportunities and spent some time over at Lincoln City where we know a lot of very good people within the women’s team set up there. She even put on a Lincoln kit and did very well for their development team in an away fixture at Wolves. But I think for her, the temptation of playing for the club that she loves was what she wanted, and it was a fairly easy decision for her”.

Dale continued: “Ava is not alone though. She is one of a number of very young talented players that I have brought into training over the last few weeks, and we will have some more news for you on further new signings in the coming days and week. It’s been said a few times now, but we do have a track record of bringing young talented female footballers into the club and successfully getting them into the world of adult football and helping them to develop as players”.

Don’t forget, Grimsby Town Football Club is now launching girls’ development teams too at both Under 16’s and Under 18’s. We provide player-centred coaching with the total emphasis being on player development, and it provides a direct pathway to our women’s team. If you would like to get involved with this, then please get in touch with us by registering your details here.


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