After just a few short months of training, Tonbridge Angels is preparing to launch a ladies football team into competitive league action.
The club, whose top men’s team is presently pushing for promotion into the Ryman Premier League, has fully backed the development of the new female squad.
Having been formally affiliated as an official Angels team, the squad is set to enter the South East Counties league from this September.
One of the team’s strikers, Samantha James, feels there’s a strong sense of optimism. She said: “My friend Chloe Derrick set up a Facebook page asking if people wanted to get involved and she got quite a few people who were interested. It just went from there.
“I’ve been playing football since I was young with my cousins. I continued playing at school and just loved it,” enthused the 18 year old, who studied for BTEC in sports development and fitness at West Kent College.
She added: “Our manager Dan has helped us develop our skills along with our other coach Rob, who are both studying for their level one coaching badges, so it’s a new thing for them too.
“It’s been exciting so far as we have had all abilities come along for the training. So far we’ve played six friendly matches and we’ve won four of them.” The team, which currently plays at Hayesbrook School, has already benefitted from a Sport England grant of more than £8,000 towards kit and equipment.
Ladies team manager Dan Couldridge said Tonbridge Angels has been extremely supportive of efforts to get the women’s team off the ground.
He said: “It’s been a big surprise. When we started last June, I thought it was just going to be a few girls playing in the park. But over the past few months we’ve had 70 different ladies come to the training sessions.
“Some of them have played for other teams which will help give us a bit of experience when we start playing in the league, but any girls over the age of 16 are welcome to attend training.
“There are not actually a lot of ladies sides around, which I think has helped our cause, and it’s been a success so far. The team should have been set up years ago – it’s no-one’s fault that hasn’t happened, but we’re here now and it is time to get cracking on with it!”
Tonbridge Angels ladies’ next friendly is against Kent Football Utd at Tonbridge Angels FC on Tuesday, May 3.