The Huddersfield Junior Football League is disappointed its proposals to set up a junior girls’ league have been knocked back.
Having sent all the relevant documentation to the West Riding FA, they received an email detailing the reasons their proposal was rejected.
The reason behind the decision is due to the fact that the FA already run a junior girls’ league. However this covers a huge area ranging from Ilkley to Horsforth and Bradford.
The Huddersfield Junior Football League secretary Ursula Spencer believes it’s unfair to see parents and children having to travel over long distances to play. She and other committee members insist there is a more local solution to be had.
“This decision is stifling women’s football,” said Ursula. “Surely the more leagues and opportunities we give women to play the better? If we set up a league we could get lots of teams involved which means more players and more girls becoming coaches and referees in our town.”
Ursula is adamant that this is a cause worth fighting for and has asked the West Riding Country FA for an appeal process.
Ursula and her team of dedicated committee members work hard every day to run one of the biggest junior set-ups in the country. With 87 clubs split into 840 teams from under 7s to 18s comprising over 10,400 registered players.
Ursula, 51, has been secretary since the 2017-18 season but admitted: “I was never really that much into football. My husband did a bit of coaching and my kids played.
“Obviously I supported them, you end up driving them to games and doing a bit of admin here and there. Then one evening I just went along to a league meeting and put my name forward to help out.
“My enjoyment is driving past a pitch hearing parents cheering their kids on, the sound of the referee’s whistle and then seeing the kids laughing and smiling. That’s a wonderful thing and it’s great to think I played a very small part in making it happen.
“Really it’s the coaches of all our clubs who deserve the credit. They set up training sessions in the week and organise the kids to play. They are the ones giving up their free time and without their hard work we wouldn’t be able to do what we are doing.”
Grassroots football is far removed from the wealth – some might say greed – of the game at the highest level. That ‘greed’ was demonstrated last week with plans by the Premier League’s ‘Big Six’ to join a European Super League.
Ursula said: “What’s happened in the last week with football and the Super League is just disgusting and it’s all about money. At our level of the game we are lucky to get £600, if that, from various people. It really isn’t enough and we would like more.
“However what we all love at grassroots level is just playing to enjoy sport. Kids enjoying playing is what makes it special for me. Seeing a kid smile having scored a goal makes up for money in a way.”
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The league and its clubs have had a tough last 12 months due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However Ursula can see the junior league come September time flourishing more than ever.
“Financially as a league we are ok, we know the pandemic has hit everyone hard. We are here and ready to support our members. Over the past two seasons it’s been difficult to organise things, but we’ve done our best.
“Personally I am looking forward to getting a full season played come September time with promotion and relegation. I think we need to celebrate that for sure.”