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Gillingham's new look
 Women's Football News 3 Jun 2009
After his first year in charge of Gillingham Ladies following his appointment by Gillingham Football Club, Martin Andrews has completely restructured the club both on and off the pitch as he looks to wake up what he calls a sleeping giant.
This includes a new management team structure, a new home ground and a reserve team. The new coaching structure consists at the moment of four experienced coaches - Ian Varley (First Team Manager), Den Overton (Head Coach), Sean Edwards (Reserve Team Manager) and Mark Crawley (Goalkeeper Coach).
Part of the radical plans was to move himself (Martin) away from the post as manager and become Director Of Football so that Gillingham can build a sustainable foundation off of the football pitch so he brought in the young charismatic Ian Varley to become first team manager, Speaking of Ian, Martin said: "He is a top coach who plays semi pro for Sittingbourne FC, he works as a Skills Coach for the FA and he is ambitious. You cannot ask for anyone else to be manager, he knows the hunger and desire it takes to play at a high level and that is what he wants to instill into our team. He has set tough targets for himself and I know he will deliver, the results and performances at the back end of the season shows we are heading in the right direction with him."
Martin also has also brought in the experienced Dennis Overton as Head Coach. "Den has been coaching for a long time," he said. "He has held various roles at Lordswood Football Club (Men's), including leading their reserves to silverware just a couple of years ago. However, the top role has just eluded him after being shortlisted for it just after he won their last trophy. He has added an extra dimension to the coaching, we joke between us that he is our Steve Clarke (In reference to West Ham's management team of Zola & Clarke) but it is true - Ian is young and needs that experienced head by the side of him."
Den's role does not stop there, part of the strategy is to bring through Female coaches, and Den will be their mentor.
With the team applying to the South East Counties League to add a reserve team to add strength and depth to the squad, Martin has brought in the experienced Sean Edwards who, up until just after Christmas, was manager at Kent neighbours Ebbsfleet United. "Sean was manager there for a couple of years and helped mould the team that went on to gain promotion this season to the South East Combination League, but parted company with them earlier this year. Although he is reserve team manager, I must stress that he will be influential within the first team as one thing I insist on is that there will be no divide between the two teams, all coaches will be involved throughout and all players will be training with each other."
The last coach involved is Mark Crawley, who has just been appointed manager of the Kent FA Ladies team. "Mark knows the ladies scene inside out, having spent several years with Charlton Athleic whilst they were in the Premiership. Mark is also the Goalkeeping Coach for Gillingham's Centre of Excellence, having recently passed his UEFA B licence. We are hopefully looking to get him even more involved with the players."
Martin has also just tied up a deal with Lordswood Football Club to use their ground for next season: "Its a lovely little ground and adds that prestige to our games. We intend to heavily market the local area and get the local public into our games and so they can see what women's football is all about, we want to fill the stand and the plans we have got are simply amazing.
"My thanks go out to Lordswood FC and especially to Steve Lewis as, around our area, women's football is still very much stigmatised and for us to be playing in a ground like this is unknown. I think Lordswood will be surprised with what we can do for them as well as us."
Lordswood FC Secretary Steve Lewis echoed this and said: "Lordswood are pleased to bring Gillingham Ladies to Martyn Grove for next season and we hope that our facilities will help them as they look to grow and become a big player in women's football in the South East of England."
Both the First team and Reserves will be based at Martyn Grove with the Reserves playing on the pitch next to the stadium during the inclement weather, however this pitch is still of a top quality as it is used in the Kent League. Martin added: "This would not be possible if the coaching team did not buy into the vision, everyone behind the scenes has worked so hard all year. I would also like to thank all those at Gillingham Football Club for the support they have given me this season too."
It has been a busy season off the pitch for Gillingham Ladies and if any players wish to discuss future plans or go training with the team, it could not be easier. Manager Ian Varley and Den Overton are running training sessions every Tuesday night throughout June, all sessions are light fun and are aimed at getting everyone fit throughout the summer until full pre-season training starts on 28th June. For full details contact Martin on (07808) 825248 or e-mail gillinghamladies@yahoo.co.uk.

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