Former professional Ian Miller is hoping he can make a success of AFC Sudbury’s first ever foray into girls-only coaching when it launches in a fortnight.
AFC Sudbury will be hosting the Football Association-backed initiative ‘SEE Wildcats’ programme, whereby regular football sessions will be held for girls between the ages of five to 11 to try and get more young females playing the game.
For ex-Ipswich Town and Cambridge United professional Miller, AFC’s community football manager, leading the programme will see a return to his coaching roots, having started out by coaching the West Suffolk Girls Football Academy when he was 18.
And he is hoping the girls-only initiative at AFC Sudbury, who have an active women’s team but no girls sides, can see female participation quickly grow at the club.
“There is a massive stigma attached to football with it being such a male-dominated sport. But look at our ladies national team, who are (now) ranked number two in the world,” he said.
“The World Cup a few years ago helped it become more known to people.
“Girls normally do not tend to play for boys teams and this will be the perfect for them to be comfortable and try something out.”
Of the sessions, to be held on AFC’s 3G artificial pitch, inside the stadium where the men’s first-team play, he said: “It is the perfect facility to come into as no-one is going to get muddy and there is no vast age differences.
“If we can get enough for a team then great but this is about girls coming into an environment where they can feel comfortable, as it will be strictly girls only, and enjoy themselves.
“Anyone can come, whether they have never kicked a ball before to someone who has played for their school team, and we will coach them at Sudbury.”
The weekly sessions, which begin on Thursday, April 26 at King’s Marsh Stadium from 4.30-5.30pm, have already proven to be successful at other clubs in the county, such as at Haverhill Rovers.
They aim to provide a safe environment where girls with no football experience can have fun engaging with sport, develop fundamental skills, try a variety of sessions, learn new things and create foundations for a lifelong love of sport.
Alongside the football for girls activities, there is set to be opportunities for the attending parents, carers and siblings to engage with sport in ‘Family Sessions’, such as Soccercise/Walking football at the same time.
Although Miller will lead the project, AFC Sudbury Academy players, who are fully qualified coaches, may step in. The sessions, which will be run by qualified coaches, are priced at £3 per time, or parents can book a block of 10 sessions for £20. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org