Towards the end of Spring, a brand new women’s football club was born in Surrey. Ben Gilby spoke to Benson Miyoba, the foundation manager of Guildford City about launching the club and their aims ahead of their first ever season.
Benson began our conversation by outlining the journey behind the formation of Surrey’s newest women’s football club.
“Guildford City Football Club has been in the early stages of a complete over haul since the beginning of the year with new members of the executive committee as well as a new management team for the senior men’s club. The mantra for the club is one club, one vision and one of the key objectives was to introduce women’s football as soon as possible to replicate the growth of the men’s side of the club.
“The community in Guildford has been able to access women’s and girls football at recreational and competitive level for some time. However as a club we aspire to become an all-inclusive community hub that the people of Guildford are proud of and want to become a part of, whether that be on or off of the pitch.”
Launching a new club is exceptionally challenging at the best of times, but doing it in the midst of a global pandemic made it one with unique difficulties, as Benson explained.
“One of the challenges has been the limited amount of time together as a club during the early stages of setting up the administration and staffing side of things. Video calls made it possible to interview and present the club vision to key people.
“We were also restricted in the amount of games that we could access to assess levels and suitable leagues to apply for. We don’t feel that this particularly held us back but it certainly required us to work smart.
“The initial stages of player recruitment have not been heavily influenced by players being eager to get back. If anything players have wanted to stay loyal to their current clubs and see out tournaments that were delayed and presentation evenings before coming and experiencing our setup. I think this shows great integrity from the players and we have extended the opportunity to trial with us in to July for several players so far.”
With the new season rapidly approaching, Benson highlighted the key areas they are having to concentrate on.
“On the pitch I see the biggest challenge being that we have no benchmark to work against. We are entering a new league set up with a completely new club and squad. However we are approaching this as professionally as possible and preparing ourselves for the highest possible level of competition that can be put in front of us.
“We have a high number of players within the squad that are stepping up to women’s football for the first time. This is through choice and we are excited to blend them in with the experienced players that we have recruited from higher tiers to give a strong foundation for this season and beyond.
Off the pitch we are in an extremely privileged position with a phenomenal level of support from the club. The resources made available to us to make this journey a success are more than we could have wished for. The staff and players plan to repay that support through the level of commitment they put in for preparation and delivery on match days.”
Benson went into greater detail about exactly what this commitment from Guildford City’s men’s team looks like.
“It’s one club, one vision. Everything that we have built so far and that we have planned for the season has been done so in consultation with the men’s team.
“We aim to make all of the performance and analysis resources used for the men’s team available for the women’s team. We also share training facilities at the same time on a Thursday evening so as to bring the whole senior club together and feed off of each other’s energy. We see this as a fantastic opportunity to instil a winning culture within the club.”
Recruitment is key when it comes to setting up a new club, and Benson outlined how things are going on this score at Guildford City.
“We have already attracted a number of experienced players from higher tiers within the women’s game. We have also secured the commitment of several under eighteens players that are serial winners in youth football that are ready to take the step up to the senior game.
“Our staff team is well balanced with both manager and assistant manager having experience at high levels within the men and women’s game respectively. We have a female head coach and assistant coach as well as our own dedicated strength and conditioning coach and sports therapist for the women’s squad. We also have a performance analyst and kit manager to make sure we have everything covered off the pitch so that the players can focus a hundred per-cent on the pitch.”
In terms of the competitions that the club will be competing in next season, Benson explained: “We will be entering the newly formed Surrey FA Women’s League. We have also entered the Combined Counties Floodlit Cup as well as all other regional cup competitions.
“This season is about laying a foundation for our goal of two promotions in three seasons. We have every intention of recruiting a side capable of hitting the ground running. However we are also committed to building a culture and a philosophy that supports long term sustainable success and aligns with the overall club vision of growing as a community club.
“We want to finish our first season with a reputation for doing things well on and off the pitch and being a club that the people of Guildford and beyond speak highly of.”
Impetus will be catching up with Benson regularly during the season to find out how Guildford City’s maiden campaign goes.