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School-Club links showcased
 Women's Football News 3 Jun 2009
Brand new football teams continue to spring up across Essex thanks to the successful FA School-Club Link Programme, which has most recently had full effect in opposite ends of the County at Billericay and Frinton-on-Sea thanks to partnerships with the Essex County Football Association.
Intersports YFC are the latest boys FA Charter Standard Club in the area to take the step of working alongside local schools and initiating a female section within their already large set up, boasting over 20 teams from youths to adults. Michelle Canty, Girls' Development Officer for the club, is increasingly positive about their move forward, explaining: "Working alongside the ECFA has been really helpful and we've managed to get girl-specific football out to as many schools as possible in the local area and get the word out there that we're serious about putting female football on the map."
Working in partnership with their County Football Association, the Barleylands-based club were keen to connect with as many primary schools in their catchment area as possible and delivered curriculum time sessions within the Quilters, Brightside, Stock and South Green schools and the eight week School-Club link initiative was promoted at each session. Intersports are now hoping to set up Under-12 and Under-10 teams as a result.
Michelle, who has taken her Level One Coaching Certificate as part of the programme and is set to work towards Level Two status shortly, was the driving force behind Intersports offering opportunities for females within the community. She continued: "The School-Club Link Programme has been a great platform to take us forward and the girls have had the opportunity to experience quality coaching that we have all learned from and intend to continue with. We are really pleased with the outcomes."
In addition, the Programme has also seen major success in the north of the County at Frinton, with the traditional eight week schedule extended to accommodate the huge demand. The Programme was specially extended for a further six weeks, the initial stage following a basic development plan. The fun sessions engaged the children to try and increase participation levels every week and it was then extended to continue to support and mentor coaches as the interest increased.
Coaching began with just four girls on the register, which has now grown to a list of around 34, ranging in age from 7 to 13-year-olds. Local fixtures were organised so the girls had experience of playing matches and two local female volunteer coaches had been mentored to develop their knowledge, experience and confidence for when they coach the youngsters themselves later down the line.
Local primary schools visited included Rolph Primary, St. Philomena's and Walton and School Teacher, Andrew Hales from Kirby Primary, attended the sessions as well as promoting the programme within his school to ensure the link was retained. "It helps if the kids have a familiar face the first time they participate," highlighted new ECFA Community Football Coach, Emma Manning.
The club sessions at Hannakins Farm Community Centre continue to take place on Thursday afternoons on the Astroturf in Billericay from 5pm to 6pm and cost only £1. Over 35 girls have attended so far and three female coaches have been delivering the sessions. For more information, contact Michelle Canty from Intersports on (01277) 650995 or Emma Burden at the ECFA on (01245) 393076 or e-mail emma.burden@essexfa.com.

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