Girls trialling for the Camden Town WFC new youth academy.

Camden Town WFC set up new junior academy for girls across north London

Camden Town Women’s Football Club (WFC) held its first trials for its new junior academy this weekend as the club seeks to capitalise on the growth in women’s football.

More than 60 girls aged eight to 23 took part in the trials this weekend for the club’s new academy, which will be based in Wembley.

It comes as support for women’s football continues to grow, with recent statistics showing the number of women football teams across England has more than doubled over the last seven years.

Tiyanna Lewis, one of the club’s coaches, said: “Since the Euros, the women’s game has increased so much and there are so many more girls that want to play football now and it is so important that we can provide clubs for these young girls to help them develop.”

Camden Town WFC’s aim to capitalise on the Lionesses’ success is echoed by parents attending the trials.

Antonio Minott, whose daughter was on the field, said: “Why shouldn’t our girls have the ambition to become footballers?

“I tell them, ‘you’re ambassadors, role-models’. Seeing them herald the next generation of Lionesses, for me it’s a beautiful thing.”

The club says the move to establish a junior academy will improve grassroots football in north London, ensuring a pipeline of talent for the women’s team.  

Richard Mahoney, chairman of the club, said: “We’ve always attached ourselves at Camden to youth teams and this is how we get so many young players into our first team and we are really proud and have some great stories of wonderful players coming into the first team who are doing really, really well.

“But now we’re at the stage where we’ve got the infrastructure, we’ve got the number of coaches, we’ve got the number of volunteers, it just makes sense to do it ourselves, and then start training people in the Camden way from a young age.”

Harry Sherman, first team manager, added: “Now we are trying to set up our own thing, to have our own network of players in our pathway, with a progression of players that are coming up to the first team.”

The academy will be based in Wembley, contrary to other women’s football clubs who have faced criticism for basing their academies in suburban areas outside London.

Wembley Stadium in the background, from Olympic Way. The trials took place near Wembley Stadium.

Camden Town WFC’s trials took place at Ark Academy, Wembley, a stone’s throw away from Wembley Stadium

Lewis said: “I’m so passionate about Brent. When I was growing up there was not much available for girls’ sport and so this academy being set up here is very empowering for these young girls in the community to actually have something local to them and accessible for them.”

The club hopes to field teams in the Junior Premier League for the 2024/25 season.

However, the club’s coaches and many parents say their priority for the club is the wider benefits team sports brings, rather than any competition.

A group of around 60 women and girls on the pitch getting a briefing from coaches on how the trails would run.

Over 60 girls and women aged 8-23 attended the Camden Town WFC academy trials on Saturday

Academy manager John Burke said: “It’s a big community. At the end of the day, it’s not just about the football.

“Of course, a big part of our job is coaching football, but it is also about coaching people, coaching young ladies to grow into women.”

One parent, Michael Brissett said: “This is good for their mental health.”

Minott agreed: “”It’s about showing the girls that they can do it. With the right support and backing they can achieve anything.

“It’s amazing the skills they learn, how they are off their phones, learning skills, and gaining confidence. It’s great for their self-esteem. I’m happy to see the girls smiling, learning in a supportive environment.

“My dream is for girls to keep playing together, challenging stereotypes.”

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