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Barnsley College launches Barnsley Women’s Football Club Academy

Picture: Left-to-right: Barnsley Women’s FC chairman Paul Thompson, Barnsley College student Izzy O’Neill, Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis, Barnsley College Principal and CEO David Akeroyd and Barnsley Women’s FC CEO Steve Maddock.

The side, who play in the FA Women’s National League Division One North, have made the move to reinforce their existing relationship with the College – which has already seen girls aged ten to 16 progress through the club’s Emerging Talent Centre (ETC).

The Football Association’s ETC scheme aims to increase the number of female players to 4,200 by the end of the 2023/24 season by instating a national network of clubs and centres offering high-quality training and playing opportunities.

The Barnsley Women’s FC Academy, based at the College’s Honeywell campus, will continue the club’s progress in that regard by allowing them to identify and nurture talent within College students aged up to 18 years old – while offering those students more opportunities to develop their understanding of the game.

Barnsley, formed in 1982 as Barnsley Ladies FC, currently play home games in Sheffield’s Olympic Legacy Park – built on the former Don Valley Stadium. They have also been in talks with the College to return to their hometown, on a completely new site.

Izzy O’Neill, Level 3 Sports Coaching and Development student who plays for the College team and Barnsley Women’s FC Reserves as a striker, said: “I started at the ETC and the manager said he wanted me to try out for the Reserves, so I did and it’s going really well.

“The ETC is developing players from a young age, and then they’re going on to the reserves and first team, or even on to the higher tiers of the game.

“The Academy will give more opportunities for players – at the College, we have three men’s teams but we’ve got one and we barely have enough for one team. I don’t think people really know what opportunities they have, but this will help show that.

“Beth England really inspires me – she’s from Barnsley and now she’s playing for England. Barnsley is quite a small town and you don’t really expect people from here to get those sorts of chances.”

Steve Maddock, CEO of Barnsley Women’s Football Club, said: “This is not just about Barnsley Women’s Football Club – it’s about the community and the College. This will be a great thing for the town – it’s about promoting the town and having the best place we can.

“We are proud that we have got one of the best colleges in the country, and by enhancing the provision for women’s football, we can make that better.

“We are going to come up with a strategy that the Barnsley Women’s FC academy will work towards, that will make it the premier academy for women in South Yorkshire.

“We are very lucky that Barnsley College have seen this. Now we’ve got girls coming from all over the county, even out of the county, because we are providing a pathway.

“This enables us to have a pathway from the age of ten to 18. We’re very privileged to be associated with the College, who have the same vision for women’s football in Barnsley that we do.”

David Akeroyd, Barnsley College Principal and CEO, said: “We choose to make strategic partnerships with people whose vision and values align with our own.

“We’re really proud to be associated with Barnsley Women’s Football Club and this academy opening really shows the next stage in our partnership.

“It’s really important to us that the women of the borough have a clear line of sight into a potential career in football.

“I think we can continue to do more together to showcase the great work that the club does, and how we can transform lives and provide a pathway for our young people.”

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis said: “I’m proud to be a longstanding supporter of Barnsley Women’s FC and their ambition for women’s and girls’ football in our Town.

“The staff at the Club, including all those who work tirelessly behind the scenes, do tremendous work – providing opportunities for young women to play at a very high standard.

“Over the years I have been dealing with the Club they have always been incredibly professional in the way they approach things. I’ll do what I can to harness the positivity around women’s football locally and ensure a lasting legacy can be provided for the next generation of ‘Bethany England’s!”

Last updated: 15th February 2024

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