Women’s football in Guernsey has been through good times and bad times but thanks to a dedicated volunteer coaching team and a resurgence in participation, the game is certainly on the up again.
Richard Sutton has played an important part in that revival and has ambitious plans for the game in Guernsey.
Having helped to establish the Guernsey Ladies Football Club in 2016, Richard is hoping the turbulent years are now behind them.
‘We’ve slowly built up the youngsters over the last 5 years to a point now where we’ve got a really really healthy group coming through and we played last year in the Channel Islands league before Covid came along,’ said Richard.
‘We work primarily with 16 and up but we’ve got some 15-year-olds who come to training as well and that’s where we start them at senior level.
‘All the time we are picking up ladies who are coming to the island or who just fancy playing again and all of a sudden you go through the books and see that where we started with 6 or 7 girls, some weeks down to 3 or 4, and we’ve got something like 45 ladies registered at the moment.’
‘It really did fly just after the Women’s World Cup; that made a big difference. I think a lot of the ladies who maybe weren’t playing decided that perhaps they would have another go.’
The Guernsey Ladies Football Club is currently the only women’s club on the Island, but Richard is hopeful that participation will continue to grow, and a small competitive league can be established. He’s also hoping for great things from a new Island representative side.
‘The trouble is I am a stubborn person and I agreed in 2016 to see this coaching role through until the Island Games in 2021 and that promise has stuck in my mind. I’ve gone nowhere and the Island Games is still there in 2023 which is great for us as we’ve got more youngsters coming through.’
Richard is certainly passionate about his coaching role and would encourage others to volunteer in sport.
‘I’ve got to see ladies starting from scratch who are now playing like they’ve been playing for years and its that progress and development that makes you come back, plus I’ve got this goal that we will play in the Island Games and we will do well.
‘I get to see a smile on their faces. Somebody who turns up who’s had a rough day and what you do with them for a couple of hours sends them away with a much brighter attitude.
‘You meet somebody new who wants to chat or wants some advice or who just wants to share some ideas and it’s a lovely community and its worth investing the time and doing it.
‘If anyone’s even half thinking about getting involved they should just give it a go and see what the community’s like and if its anything like the experience I’ve had then you’ll love it!’
Pictured - events such as the Specsavers Youth Games are encouraging more girls to take up football