Impetus editor Ben Gilby writes about the rapid strides that the Lancashire side are taking. In this first part of the piece, we learn about the different numbers of teams Burnley have and their progress since 2017. With thanks to Sinead Kennedy-Peers of Burnley FC Women for her assistance with compiling this feature.
Massive strides have been made in women’s football in recent years. Burnley FC Ladies, as it was known pre-2016, was very much run at a grassroots level for many years and the first team were in tier five of the women’s football pyramid.
In 2017, Burnley FC in the Community took over operation of Burnley FC Women, providing elite training and development to players from under six to the senior women’s teams. Forming part of the organisation’s Female Football programme, qualified sports coaches now provide a professional environment for players to engage in the beautiful game and offers opportunities for females to learn and develop.
Burnley FC Women junior sides compete in various leagues across the Lancashire including the North Valley and Burnley Unity League. With competitive teams from under tens to open age, there are plenty of opportunities for youngsters to take part in regular, competitive football every week. The club has seen significant changes off the pitch too. In May 2018, Burnley FC Ladies was officially rebranded to Burnley FC Women, with the new name, logo and website designed to highlight Burnley FC in the Community’s commitment and vision for female football at the club. The first team also officially host all their home games at Padiham FC’s Ruby Civil Arena.
Over the past two seasons, the Burnley FC Women First Team have secured consecutive league titles and now compete in the FA Women’s National League Northern Premier Division, the third tier in the women’s football pyramid and the highest level they have ever competed at. At the end of December 2019 Burnley sat second in the table, six points adrift of leaders Sunderland with a game in hand over the Wearside side.
This excellent recent progress up the league system has continued this season as the side have established themselves in the upper echelons of the National League Northern Premier Division. The club are more than aware that the standard in the National League Northern Premier Division this year is extremely high allied by the fact that in recent times and this year in particular; financial investment has played a part in increasing the quality of players at the level. Higher quality players have been attracted to the league, making games challenging. There are a number of teams at this level such as Nottingham Forest Women, Huddersfield Town Women, Sunderland AFC Ladies, Derby County LFC and Fylde Women FC – all have extremely strong squads with very talented individuals who are established at this level.
Whilst the recent past has been full of exciting times, the future could be brighter still. exciting things. It is clear that Burnley FC Women have strengthened under the guidance, tactical prowess and stewardship of Manager Matt Bee, who arrived in 2016 when Burnley FC in the Community took over operation. Bee has assisted the team to back to back promotions having taken the team from the Regional League Premier Division where they languished for over a decade, to the current 2nd position in the FA WNL Premier North. In November, Matt also received confirmation of his acceptance on the UEFA A License course starting in January, something which is only going to benefit the Burnley FC Women squad even further.
Also, in 2016 a Burnley FC Women committee was introduced to oversee operations and cover strategic areas for the club including Football, Finance, Marketing, Administration and Safeguarding. The committee govern all aspects of Burnley FC Women from the under six age group through to the first team. The infrastructure of the committee is key to driving the club forward, making the appropriate investment and decisions to ensure that Burnley FC Women continues to be successful and achieve great things over the years to come.”
In the concluding part of this feature next week: We find out more about life in the FA Women’s Northern Premier, and the club’s links with the men’s side which is helping to increase both fan numbers and sponsors.