Lee Mann is the manager of tier six club Liskeard Athletic. He spoke to Ben Gilby about the club’s great progress, and high hopes for the future (28/4/22).
Above: Liskeard Athletic FC. Photo: Janina Augustynowicz.
Liskeard Athletic are a big part of a growing successful women’s football scene in Cornwall. Manager Lee Mann came in ahead of this season and knew there was huge potential at the club.
“I was approached about coming to Liskeard and time being the manager of the men’s team, I decided I wanted to take the opportunity as they were a very talented and good group of girls.
“From then we worked very hard as we only had three weeks before the season started to prepare. We are now on the brink of winning the league, and got to the First Round of the FA Cup.
“Our striker Chloe Williams is still the top scorer in the competition with 12 goals and has been invited to the Final at Wembley! We’ve also reached the quarter-final of the Cornwall Ladies Cup. So the first season has been successful with so much to build on.”
Liskeard Athletic’s success come amidst the shadow of the pandemic. Lee believes that the club used the pause in football to their advantage.
“We continued to work hard behind the scenes and it gave us a chance to focus on other areas such as administration and trying to attract sponsorship and obtain grants.
“The biggest thing for any grassroots football is the amount of money that it takes to run a club and the amount of effect behind the scenes all committees member have to put in. It is very hard to attract volunteers as being involved in a football club is a full-time job.
“We have some wonderful volunteers. I have been managing for 12 years now and I wouldn’t be able to do what I do if it wasn’t for Janina my other half she is the oil that makes the machine work so well. It’s just a thing we do now we turn up and don’t even have to ask what the other person is doing. John Wilson is the ladies’ linesman. He gives his time up for free and travels everywhere with the girls and for both teams, we have a fantastic local man, Jon Harris that takes photos and helps with promoting the club.”
At the present time, the club are still revelling in being back playing football after the pandemic. “During the COVID period, not playing games was a big loss physically and mentally, not just for the players, managers, and committee, but also for the supporters.”
Liskeard are presently in the South-West Regional League Division One West and are extremely well placed to win promotion only having lost two games all season. This has put them a point behind leaders Plymouth Arygle U23s who have completed their season. With Liskeard having home and away games with Helston remaining, two points will seal the title.
Lee summarised the competition as “a small league (only six clubs) due to teams pulling out due to lack of players or struggling at the standard. Having said that, the teams are very competitive and all very much on their day can beat each other.
“As a manager I always push players to be the best they can. This isn’t just good for football, it is good for everyday life being a winner having the strong mentally to do better and never settle for just enough. So I will always push the side to win leagues, cups and promotion. If not there is no point.”
One of the club’s development points is to build a pathway from girls’ football towards the first team. Lee highlights how they are planning on going about doing it.
“At the moment we only have the one team but we are building pathways with local side St. Cleer who have girls’ teams. We are also going to try and build bridges with the school next door to the club as it’s key to give local girls and ladies the opportunity to play.”