St Mirren Youth Football Club decided a couple of years ago to consider the creation of a Girls section. This was off the back of the Club's push towards being as inclusive as possible, opening itself up to a wider, more community focussed base.
The Club Secretary and Chair have been driven by a desire to grow the Club from the bottom up and have created a number of young squads where there were none previously. Part of this process was the club's desire to change its name from St Mirren Football Club Boy's Club, and re-brand itself as St Mirren Youth Football Club. This was also partly due to the many young female footballers in its young squads, but also to be more in tune with the Club's ethos of 'Football for All'
Within the 1998s squad, there were three girls with outstanding ability and with the Club pushing through application to the SFA Quality Mark Partner Club scheme; it was obvious that a Player Pathway had to be put in place for Girls as well as boys and keep these players in the game.
Local girls football clubs were sounded out with a view to working in partnership with the Youth Football Club and develop a cohesive pathway for Girls.
This didn't really materialise, however the Club were adamant that these girls had to continue to play and decided to form their own team from what players they had, bolstering the squad by recruitment drives.
Other 'Boys' Clubs and local Leagues and Associations were approached with an offer to coach a local 'select' Girls Under 13s team - again there was a disappointing return, however last Autumn interest started to gather pace and by early 2010 there were 7 girls involved.
Not quite enough for a squad, but with a new recruitment drive on the Clubs website and by poster campaign all over Renfrewshire and beyond, as well as good old fashioned word of mouth, more talented girl footballers started to appear at coaching sessions. The Club then decided to apply to join Scottish Women's Football West Regional Girls League for Under 13s and were accepted.
One girl even hailed from Oban and a series of friendly fixtures were arranged with established Girls teams. Coaches were surprised and delighted to win two out of the three ties - the players were even more delighted!
The only other drawback so far is that the girls are playing in hand me down kit from some of the Clubs 'boys' squads, however we have secured sponsorship from a Mosspark, Glasgow based sports supplier and the Girls will flourish in new playing and training kit within a few weeks!
Such is our popularity that we now have a squad of 18 players ranging from 8 to 12 years of age and we already are thinking ahead to next season (2011), where we hope to add an Under 11s and Under 15s to the 13s!
Anyone who is interested, whether a player, prospective coach or volunteer helper can contact Frank Sweeney, the Club Secretary on 07760 413394 or the Debbie Millsom, the Girls Head Coach on 07874 374365. Alternatively, please visit www.stmirrenyfc.org.uk for more information!