Published: 16:15, 17 June 2014
Gillingham Football Club have taken over the running of the Gillingham Ladies.
The Ladies, who play in the FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division, will now play all of their home games at Priestfield.
Gillingham FC will take over the management and day to day running of the ladies team, who have just had their most successful season ever.
Gills chairman watched the ladies in their final match of the season, against Coventry, and was pleased to now be part of it.
He said: “I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the game and the players’ technical ability and, despite the result, I could see there has been a huge improvement in the standard of football in the women’s game overall.
“I had in my mind that I wanted to provide our own Ladies team out of the club but after being approached by the Gillingham Ladies FC management about working closer together, it soon became clear that this is the most sensible option for both parties.”
The Ladies eventually hope to play at the top level, in the FA Women’s Super League.
Mr Scally said: “I would like to gain entrance to the WSL II at some stage in the future but we will take one step at a time and enjoy the journey – I’m looking forward to seeing some games.”
Darren Hare, the club’s Director of Youth Development and Community Trust, was excited by the news.
He said: “For different reasons this partnership has been on the discussion table a few years but it is the icing on the cake for Gillingham FC’s Community trust and its overall plan for helping to develop girls’ and women’s football.
“We have a strong Centre of Excellence program for girls from the age of 9-17, with some girls achieving international recognition.”
The club this year will be running a full-time girls’ football/education academy in conjunction with Bexley College (for 16-19 year olds) from Priestfield Stadium.
Hare said: “Now a nine year old girl joining Gillingham FC, if talented and committed, could follow the pathway we are creating all the way to senior football at a top level in a few years’ time. That’s an excellent vision.”
The Gills coach has applauded the work of outgoing chairman of Gillingham Ladies FC, Martin Andrews .
He added: “He has been instrumental in getting the Ladies team where they are today – he deserves a great deal of credit.
“However, he, and indeed all of the voluntary staff with the ladies team, including current chairman Paul Brown and director of football Bill Long, know this is the best option to move the players and team to the next level.”
Hare added: “We are running a number of educational projects out of the club at present as we have the expertise in teaching and an abundance of resources, but the girls’ academy is definitely one that will be in demand after this news.”
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