2O14 has been a busy year for Gillingham Ladies FC. Besides a record-breaking run in the FA Cup, an epic title decider to end the season, success in the Ryman and Kent Cups, the biggest moment in the club’s history arrived during the quiet, off-season.
Gillingham Ladies officially became part of Gillingham FC, Kent’s only football league club. With matches now at the home of Kent football, MEMS Priestfield Stadium, the future and sustainability of Kent’s best women’s team was confirmed with the leadership and support of Gillingham FC Chairman Paul Scally and the club’s board.
Since then, there’s been plenty of change. With a new manager and new faces starting for Gills; the club has depended on fantastic support from the club’s Centre of Excellence and Community Trust to continue it’s outstanding rate of development, despite losing a whole team of players to FA WPL side Brighton and Hove Albion.
The club’s cemented player pathway means that Gillingham FC now has teams from Under 9s to Under 17s, alongside two senior sides. Not only this, but the club hosts a Girls Academy, enjoying it’s inaugural year which enables young girls who love to play football the opportunity to do so on a full time basis whilst picking up a BTEC and whole host of other qualifications.
The hard work off the pitch is revolutionizing women and girls football in Kent, with Gillingham Ladies paving the way for more and more young girls and women to have a role in football -whether playing, officiating or working within the industry. The result of such dedication and endeavor is beginning to make a subtle impact of the fan base the women’s side are enjoying. With over 4,000 fans on social media and growing attendances at games, the club’s players are given a royal reception every time they grace the pitch at Priestfield and are fully aware of the responsibility they now hold as role models to a generation of young boys and girls who enjoy the women’s game.
Georgia Reece is a success story of years of hard work. A Centre of Excellence graduate, a student at the club’s Girls Academy and now an integral part of Gillingham Ladies Reserves team who has also received several call ups to the first team by Manager Simon Ratcliffe. Not only professional when wearing the shirt, Georgia contributes as a coach working across the county to facilitate football for hundreds upon hundreds of young girls and boys through Gillingham FC’s innovative Community Trust. Georgia referees, plays and coaches. Importantly, she’s giving back to the club that’s offered her so much and as such has attracted sponsorship from the club’s Under 11s team. We spoke to Georgia’s sponsors – Gillingham Girls CoE Under 11s and parent Vanessa Griffiths – to find out why they had decided to support the club through player sponsorship.
“The parents of the Girls Under 11’s team wanted to sponsor a player of Gillingham Ladies as they felt that this was a perfect opportunity for them to give something back to the club as a thank you for offering their daughters a place in Gillingham FC Centre of Excellence” revealed Vanessa. “The Centre of Excellence is a great learning platform for the girls, where they are lucky enough to receive fantastic coaching and development not just in football but their whole mental attitude and behaviour.”
“Georgia Reece was the perfect person for the Under 11’s team to sponsor as she regularly attends and helps in their training sessions in her own time and has really inspired the girls to push themselves and work hard so that maybe, one day, they too could become one of the Gillingham Ladies FC squad. The girls really enjoy it when Georgia trains with them and they learn a lot from her.”
Vanessa acknowledged the difference it has made having Gillingham Ladies as an official part of the club and has applauded their work inspiring the next generation: “Now that Gillingham Ladies FC are officially linked with the Girls Centre of Excellence it makes the connection between girls football and women’s football much stronger and the transition from playing girls football into women’s football that more achievable.”
“Since Gillingham Ladies has been linked with the Centre of Excellence
the girls have been encouraged to attend more ladies football matches at Priestfield Stadium which is great. This enables them to watch and learn from the ladies team whilst also supporting them by attending the games with their families which in turn is promoting women’s football.”
By sponsoring a Gillingham Ladies player, individuals, teams and businesses receive a whole host of benefits. From branding exposure on the club’s website to featuring in the men’s programmes too, sponsorship is another way of supporting the girls as they go through a transitional season.
Vanessa said, “Sponsorship is a great way to get involved with women’s football. It helps young talent grow and enables the club to supply those little extras which make all the difference. When you sponsor a player it really makes you take an interest in their performance and follow their progress and want them to succeed to the best of their ability we highly recommend it.”
If you’d like to learn more about sponsoring a player, get in touch with us via Twitter or email firstname.lastname@example.org