Here come the Girls!

READY: Darryl Tate and Kayleigh Steed will manage the new team, to enter competition next season
READY: Darryl Tate and Kayleigh Steed will manage the new team, to enter competition next season

The stage has been set for Haverhill Rovers to reintroduce a women’s team to The New Croft after an absence of nearly 10 years of female football in the town.

Haverhill Rovers have appointed a management team in the next step in the development of a ladies team.

Darryl Tate and Kayleigh Steed will take the helm, as manager and assistant manager, of a senior women’s squad from the 2018/19 season, that will be ‘every bit as professional and successful as the men’s squad’.

Steed has been preparing for her new role with an ongoing UEFA B licence qualification (due to be completed in April) while Tate is well drilled as a football boss having coached within Rovers’ youth ranks for years.

Steed said it has, so far, progressed ‘brilliantly’ with 18 women turning up for the first open training session on February 1.

The second session, to be held on March 1, will look to formalise the team and ask the willing players to commit to regular team football.

But those not able to commit to matches will still be welcome at training.

Steed said: “It’s about generating interest in women’s football in the town and getting a core group together.

“As the game gets bigger and has more prominence internationally, interest has grown locally too.

“The professional game has a big impact on the grassroots game and success, particularly on the international stage, has made women want to get involved.

“But there’s been a bit of a geographical void in Haverhill. I think that’s why we had such strong interest at the first session — we already have enough players to make a first team, and we know of others that are interested but just couldn’t come to the first session.

“It’s been a long time in the making, Darryl has been really pushing for a ladies team for a while now.”

The club previously had a female team, that competed in the Eastern Region Women’s Premier Division (ERWPD) in 2008, before becoming defunct.

Steed added: “Darryl is the best man for the job, he understands it won’t be the same as managing a men’s team, despite the same ambitions.

“I think this understanding was missing in the past, but the women’s game is building its own identity now.”

She said their next step is to decide which league to register a new team with, the ERWPD or a level below in the feeder leagues.

Ex-AFC Sudbury player Steed added she will also dust off her own boots if, as she jokes, she is ‘still good enough to make the team’.