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Walshaw to promote and develop ladies football

15 March 2017

Sheffield United is actively promoting and developing girls and ladies football and former Blades midfielder Lee Walshaw is heading up the project with the aim of producing a well-rounded approach to women's game at the club.

Earlier this season, Sheffield United Ladies were brought under the Blades umbrella and have enjoyed the support of the club, which has included playing a WFA Cup fixture at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield-born Lee, recently International Academy Manager working predominantly out in India, is now leading as General Manager and is based up at the SteelPhalt Academy at Shirecliffe.

Working alongside Lee and the staff is Kay Adkins, who is responsible for the Safeguarding and Welfare of the girls and ladies. She has great knowledge and a wealth of experience working in football, which is vital as the club look to create an environment where the girls can flourish in their quest to reach the top of their game.

Lee said: "The club is keen to see SUFC Ladies eventually competing in the Womens Super League (WSL) and we have started the process of setting out on that journey. That is the ultimate aim. It will take time, we know that, but with the backing and buy-in of all the club, it is a realistic aim.

"We have taken on the Community Ladies team, re-branded them and are looking to create a more professionally run set-up both on and off the pitch. The likes of Tony Santoro, Brian Parkin, Dan O'Hearne and Tony Smith have done a great job and we are delighted that they are on the journey with us as we look to mirror the way the mens and boys side of the club runs, bringing it all under one umbrella."

Currently, United Ladies are going well and are sitting second in the East Midlands Regional League with games in hand as they start their run-in with promotion in sight. This would be the first of three promotions needed to achieve WSL status.
Underpinning the Ladies first team are squads right down to U9s, currently playing in local leagues, coached, managed and run by a great set of volunteers and parents.

Also leading into the ladies section is the Regional Talent Centre (RTC), based at Shirecliffe. This is for elite girls in four age groups - U10s U12s, U14s and U16s - and United are one of only 30 clubs licensed by the FA to run such a centre. A few of these girls are already being recognised at international level, whilst the aim is for these players to come through the system and eventually play in the ladies first team.
Lee added: "Something new we are looking to start in September is an Elite Ladies Football Academy, incorporating an education programme which would bridge the gap from U16s to ladies. Again, this would mirror the boys Academy.

"Already, United fans will have seen the girls and ladies around the club, on the pitch at half-time of games, on the concourses, hospital visits at Christmas with the first team...this is just the beginning of things to come.

"It's my job to help raise the profile, oversee the day-to-day running and promote the ladies and girls section of the club, whilst meeting criteria laid down by the FA as we are audited at regular intervals. It is a great role I've been given and an opportunity to come in at the outset of something exciting within SUFC.

"Please look out for future games and events featuring the ladies and girls RTC and give them your support."

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