Baglan Boys & Girls club have used Euro 2016 as a catalyst to build an entire girls section – here’s how they did it.
If you think it’s just boys who’ve spent the summer in their back yards or local parks perfecting their Robson-Kanu turns, think again.
In a small corner of South West Wales, girls have been queuing up to perfect their own skills, making new friends and memories in the process.
Since the final whistle blew on last season, Baglan Boys and Girls Club have been tirelessly building a girls section, pretty much from scratch, by canvassing local schools and scouring social media. It's seems their hard work as paid off as it’s been a runaway success.
Helped by the buzz Gareth Bale and boys stirred in France, the enthusiastic group of coaches at Baglan have hosted three girls only summer camps in August, each attended by more than 40 aspiring young footballers.
Following the success of the summer camps, the ambitious coaches are now putting their plan into action by incorporating the 30 new faces they’ve engaged into their newly formed girls section.
Here the people involved tell us how they’ve done it…
David Charles, junior chairman
"The summer camp was set up to encourage girls football of all ages and promote the game to those who want to take it up.
"We’ve always encouraged all abilities, we just want girls to come down and play as much football as they can.
"They can enjoy playing with their friends and make new ones in the process.
"Now I’m regularly getting texts and Facebook messages from parents of girls asking when their daughter can come down and play. It’s gone crazy really."
Ryan Thomas, coach
"We want them to be friends for life. That’s the ethos the club runs by.
"We see our girls mixing together outside of school and that makes us proud.
"The main goal is for everybody to have fun. Yes, we want to be competitive but ultimately if the girls enjoy football they will pick up a range of life skills in the process.
"That’s how we plan to build the club.
"Of the 40 girls who turned up to our summer camp, 10 were from an existing team and 30 were new faces.
"The summer camp was an innovative idea and we’ve already spoken about doing another one at half term.
"We started with U11 and U14 teams and then we decided ‘why not go for broke and invite other girls?'
"Now we’ve got girls from five different schools at the club and people from even further afield getting in touch. We’re hoping for two new U9 teams, another U11 team and almost certainly an U8 team too.
"It’s not just football either, we’ve taken them ice skating, camping and to watch Wales internationals.
"We never turn anybody away because you never know when you might find the next Gareth Bale of Sophie Ingle."
David Davies, coach
"The objective is simple. We want to get as many girls playing football as possible.
"It’s surprising how many girls are out there who would love to play but don’t know that girls football exists.
"We have great facilities here and I’ve been coaching for long enough to know what we’re doing is right.
"If we continue to train them right and they enjoy it, we will definitely continue to get numbers."
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