"We will look to connect with every grassroots club and school locally to ensure all girls get the same opportunities going forwards"
The Suffolk Girls’ Development Centre (GDC) is to be delivered by Ipswich Town’s Community Trust next season.
It will become the Trust’s Girls’ Advance Training Centre (ATC) and will continue to be the feeder route into the Girls’ Advanced Coaching Centre (ACC).
The move follows on from Suffolk FA and Town reaching an agreement for the Club to take on delivery of Suffolk’s ACC.
The GDC was also previously delivered by Suffolk FA, and ITFC’s Local Elite Player Development Centres which will sit underneath the ATC in the pathway will now provide a comprehensive route for youth female footballers in the county.
Paige Shorten, Ipswich Town Girls’ ACC Centre Manager, said: “I’m really excited for the ACC to launch for its second year at Ipswich Town (Tier 1 of Suffolk’s female pathway).
“This season has been a positive step for female football in the county and alongside this, I am really pleased that Ipswich Town Community Trust will deliver and develop the pathway below the ACC where we will continue to link very closely next year.
“We are the only ACC in the country to also run our U21s WSL Academy and Women’s team so the pathway is really clear for girls in the county.
“We will be planning to hold our selection days in July as normal, however we will be waiting for direction from the government and The FA before announcing any dates due to Covid-19.
“We hope all participants understand and will be in touch via emails to parents of existing participants and general communications to confirm dates for next season asap. Keep safe and Ipswich Town, Ipswich Town Community Trust and Suffolk FA will look forward to meeting at the selection day.”
Suffolk FA Girls’ & Women’s Football Development Officer, Rebecca Bolton, said: “Suffolk FA are pleased to partner with Ipswich Town to strengthen the opportunities for female players’ development within the county whilst bringing clarity to the female pathway.
“This new structure provides something for everyone, whether it is a new player wishing to receive extra training to supplement their grassroots football or players in the ACC who may have opportunities to attend regional training camps and beyond.
“The tremendous progression seen by both ITFC Women and ITFC U21 WSL Academy teams has certainly further raised the profile of female football in the county.
“This announcement together with the provision of Wildcats Centres across the county, grassroots clubs providing safe and fun environments for all, the Suffolk Girls & Women’s League offering competitions for players to flourish, and the Suffolk FA Female Leadership Academy providing direction and impetus for females to be involved in the game in all roles, Suffolk female football is set to continue on the upward trajectory.”
Head of Ipswich Town Community Trust, Jason Curtis, added: “We are naturally delighted with this slight change within the girls’ game which makes total sense from a player/parent perspective to simplify the player pathway.
“As the only affiliated and recognised route of progression into Suffolk’s ACC set-up, our girls’ provision will continue to flourish, showcasing the very best talent across Suffolk and beyond, offering a transparent route for everyone involved.
“The Advanced Training Centre (Tier 2) at Needham Market FC and local Elite Player Development Centres (Tier 3) in Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds will be delivered in line with our existing boys’ programme to ensure training, fixtures and development are delivered effectively.
“These really are exciting times for girls and women’s football and our programme will offer numerous opportunities and experiences which include engagement with the senior set-ups, matchday experiences, development camps and tours to name just a few.
“Ipswich Town Football Club is the heartbeat of Suffolk and as its charitable arm, the Community Trust will look to connect with every grassroots club and school locally to ensure all girls get the same opportunities going forwards.”
Suffolk FA held the licence for a number of years to run both the ACC and GDC in the county and these were both sponsored by HomeStore Self Storage, who also sponsor the Suffolk Women’s Cup. Their partnership has been invaluable in promoting the female game to new heights in Suffolk.