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The new Charlton Athletic women's set up made a winning start to life under the Charlton Community Trust, and coach Paul Mortimer is also optimistic about the coming Premier League campaign.
Due to the summer upheaval, Charlton's first team have been given permission to delay the start of the season until September 23rd along with several other clubs whose players are with England at the World Cup in China.
But last week the four Centre of Excellence sides did play their first fixtures of the new season and recorded wins in all four games against Brighton & Hove Albion at Coldharbour Leisure Centre. Off the pitch, youngsters have been hard at work training, and parents were also recently invited to attend a special meeting to discuss plans for the future.
Trust chief executive Steve Waggott was among those in attendance, and he said: "The Under-10s and Under-12s still require a few more players, but the centre of excellence sides are looking very strong for this season, as they showed on Saturday.
"With regards to the academy, enrolment at London Leisure College took place last week, and although to date there are 14 players signed up, there is potential to take more.
"Eight players are involved in the programme at Canterbury, which continues on from the success of last year, and new links are being established with a school in Hertfordshire."
On the first team front, the future of last season's FA Cup finalists was the last to be secured following a series of negotiations over the summer and, under the watchful eye of former Addicks winger and current community coach Mortimer, numbers have rocketed to more than 25 girls training every week.
"Although there is a long way to go, given fitness levels need to be worked on and that we lost some top players over the summer, I am confident with hard work and support from all areas we can field strong teams this season," he said.
Training takes place at Sparrows Lane on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, and some positive media coverage has attracted a number of players of the required standard.
Community director Jason Morgan was involved in the Charlton girls' set up for many years when it was run by the Charlton community scheme, and has been amazed at how the programme has grown. Now back involved as part of the trust, Jason said: "We are now able to give the women's set up more support and the infrastructure to drive all three strands forward, and we are endeavouring to access new funding to give the work greater stability as well.
"Paul Mortimer, plus a number of other coaches who are currently on temporary contracts to provide assistance, have done a fantastic job to date."
Any girls interested in the Centre of Excellence, or players keen to know more about the academy and women's first-team set-up at Charlton, should call (020) 8850 2866 or e-mail Tina.Johnson@cafc.co.uk.
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