A MUCH-NEEDED football team recently launched in Malmesbury. 

Malmesbury Youth Girls Football club has been running since 2022, with the club entering their u13 girls in the Wiltshire league for the first time in September. 

And with numbers continuing to grow in the younger age groups, there are plans for further teams next season such as under 12 and under 11. 

However, following concerns that there were no teams for players once they are over 16, the club recently decided to launch a senior team. 

Club President Rhianon Stidever said: "I am one of the coaches for the girls section. 

"I have played from the age of seven and have witnessed first hand how difficult it is to find opportunities as a female player in the sport.

"I played in my local league from the age of 14 in Powys, Wales, I then went to play for my university and finally finished my career in my late 20s at Loughborough Foxes LFC.

"I am a sports physiotherapist by trade, but I have been a football coach since the age of 20 and have worked for UK based holiday camps and I spent a long summer in the USA coaching football back in 2008. 

"I now have three daughters, who are eight, six and eight months old. 

"My eight year old and my six year old play for both the mixed youth teams as well as the girls in Malmesbury.

"So far the 'senior team' has been a huge success.

Wilts and Gloucestershire Standard: Malmesbury Ladies set up their new team in June last year"We have a real mix of abilities, from players who have played at a good level in the past like myself, to players who haven't played since school.

"We have also attracted a lot of beginners who perhaps didn't get the opportunities I did growing up but have always wanted to give football a go. 

"We already have a strong committed committee, all working hard to help build the club. 

"The main challenge we have faced is winter training.

"During the summer, we have kindly been allowed to use the youth facilities at the Red Bull pitches in Malmesbury.

"However, these are not available over the winter as they need to be kept in a good condition for the youth club matches.

"Therefore we have had to venture over to the hockey pitches at Chippenham Sports Centre until Easter when we will hopefully return to Malmesbury. 

"Going forward, our 2024 goal is recruitment.

"We need players of all abilities.

"We would like to move towards arranging friendlies and entering tournaments with the aim to enter a league either in the 24/25 season or the 25/26 season.

"By 2026, our U13 girls will be turning 16 and so it is my deepest hope that we have a formidable club up and running by that point for them to transition into with ease.  

"I am so grateful for both the clubs committee members and all the players who support my vision and are working hard to help make it happen." 

Carly Eyre, social secretary, said: "It’s a great way to meet new people, we have so much fun when we’re playing.

"There’s so much encouragement and support for each other.

"It doesn’t matter what level you are at, we just want Ladies to be able to come along and enjoy themselves.

"The bonus being you can improve your fitness at the same time. 

"There’s definitely been an influx in ladies wanting to play, fuelled by the recent success of The Lionesses.

"There was definitely a need for something like this in Malmesbury, so it’s great that we’ve been able to form a club."

Winter training is on Fridays between 6.30pm and 7.30pm on the Astro Turf pitch at Chippenham Sports Ground.