After what feels like an eternity since we last played any football, the light at the end of the tunnel appears to be approaching fast. The club committee and I hope there is a new-found love and enthusiasm of the game from all our members, but also from those who may want to join our community for the first time. If you’d like to enquire about our community football sessions including holiday clubs, Saturday morning soccer school, girls’ sessions and development sessions, you can register your interest here: https://forms.gle/opzmX5oMauJxhGJz8
At Aylesford FC one of the things that is really important to us is that football should be for everyone. As you may remember from the last newsletter, we’ve recruited a Diversity and Inclusion Lead to help make us an even more welcoming club. Our vision is that ultimately there are no barriers to being part of our family. In this edition of our newsletter, we’re shining a light on some of the good-news stories so far, which we hope to build on in future. We meet Adrian, a big fan of our Ladies Second Team and huge advocate for women’s football; we catch up with Megan, the new coach of our girls Wildcats programme; we announce an exciting new partnership and an important new initiative; and we give the lowdown on parent reps.
On our return let’s all ensure we appreciate and make the most of both the community and football on offer at Aylesford FC. I wish everyone the best of luck when we start again.
Meet Adrian Love
“It’s one of the easiest sports to do… all you need is a ball and two jumpers as goal posts! Football is for everyone.”
A long-time follower of women’s football and supporter of Manchester City, Adrian and his wife have seen the Ladies City team play several times, including the 2017 FA Cup final when they beat Birmingham 4-1. He’s even read ‘The History of Manchester City Women’s Football’.
Pre-Covid, he could be found at every one of the home games of our Ladies Second team and many of the away matches too. “It was such a shame the season had to end when it did; it was their first season and they were top. Hopefully I’ll be able to watch them again soon.”
But how did Adrian come to be such a loyal Aylesford FC Ladies supporter?
“I’m a steward at Tonbridge Angels. A few years back they put a ladies team together… They were successful to start with, but the team sadly folded. Their manager Dan Couldridge was asked to coach a Second Ladies team at Aylesford so I went to support him. They are such a friendly group of people and were so welcoming. Joe Rowe, their new coach, works so hard for them. It’s a great club to feel part of.”
And what would Adrian say to anyone doubting women’s football?
“Football is for everyone. Just give women’s football a chance. It’s so rewarding watching any team do well.”
Meet Megan Abbott
Since joining us, Megan, 17, has helped with coaching at the clubs Saturday morning Soccer School and our holiday camps.
More recently she took over coaching of our Wildcats club, for girls aged 5-11 years.
Megan is studying a Level 3 Extended Diploma in Sports Coaching at West Kent College an
d has now been offered a place at UCFB Wembley to study Football Coaching and Management.
During lockdown, she has been busy keeping up her studies virtually and creating YouTube training videos for the Wildcats to help keep them active and interested in football.
Why did you want to get into sports coaching?
Megan: I’ve always loved football from a very early age, and my first experience of being coached was at the Player Development Centre at Maidstone Utd. Soon after, I began to volunteer there, coaching with the Pebbles on a Saturday morning when I was 14. This first experience of coaching taught me that it was so rewarding to have a small impact on young footballers- seeing them go from shy beginners to progressing with us until they were playing in their first team was amazing. Since then, I’ve taken every opportunity that has come my way, and have really found a passion for coaching.
How did you come to be involved with Aylesford FC?
Megan: I met Becky Watson from the club when I was coaching at Maidstone, and she kindly introduced me to the Chairman, James Fuller, who then invited me to come along to a Saturday morning Soccer School session. I remember halfway through it starting pouring hard with rain! However all of the young players still looked so cheerful and excited as the other coaches were extremely positive and encouraging, and I knew I’d love to coach here.
What do you enjoy most about your coaching experience so far at AFC?
Megan: The club is incredibly positive and I feel so lucky to coach here, so I’d have to say the range of opportunities I’ve had as a coach. I get to work with new coaches, I’ve got to know lots of different talented young players at the club, and it’s brilliant to be a part of their development as footballers.
What are your top tips for coaching football?
Megan: I’d say I think every coach has to have a unique style- we can all learn from each other this way and become well rounded coaches. I’ve learned a lot from coaching with Simon, Mason and Toby at the Soccer School- they are all positive people and together, we come up with great ideas to help the players have fun sessions where they learn something each week! My main tip for coaching would have to be that a coach has to have lots of patience and positivity- especially coaching younger age groups!
Have you had any feedback from the Wildcats about your videos and about the training sessions they are missing due to lockdown?
Megan: I’ve heard that a lot of the girls are getting on really well, and there’s been lots of positive comments from other coaches, parents and players as well as other clubs and people too! I know a lot of the players at Aylesford, whether they are Wildcats, Soccer School players or playing in a team, have kept the club spirit high by continuing to practice football at home- taking on different challenges and smashing them! I hope everyone continues to watch the videos and maintain this positivity to get us through these next few months, and hopefully we can all get back to playing football as soon as possible.
To find out more about Aylesford FC Wildcats visit: aylesfordfc.co.uk/aylesford-wildcats
We’re really pleased to announce our new partnership with Football v Homophobia. This international initiative exists to
challenge discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression at all levels of football. It engages in campaigning, education, advice and guidance, research, policy consultation and capacity in order to:
- Make existing football structures safe, welcoming and inclusive for LGBTI people.
- Create opportunities and promote engagement of LGBTI people in football at all levels and in all forms.
- Improve the representation and visibility of LGBTI people throughout football.
- To realise the potential of football in society as a tool to create positive change.
Here at Aylesford we are planning to kick off our support with a Football v Homophobia awareness match later in the year when it is safe to do so.
New support initiative
Something else new that we’re really proud to put in place are our ‘support cards’. These will be distributed around the local
community and those further afield. The idea is to show it’s okay to not be okay, and that everyone deserves a friend or at least a listening ear, now more than ever.
As a community football team we are blessed with the fact we have teammates, coaches, peers and supporters to look to in our moments of need. Others don’t always have that luxury, so we as a Club want to offer to be a teammate when you don’t feel you have any.
We’d like to thank Imagink in Aylesford for printing these cards free of charge.
For more information visit: aylesfordfc.co.uk/mental-health
Our lovely parent reps have been in post for a while now but not every team has one, not every team supporter knows they have one, and their role has been a bit vague, especially since we’ve not been playing football for a while!
So this is a shout out to all our parent reps; it’s also to let all our teams’ parents and supporters know who you are and how you can help make their time at this Club a better one.
In a nutshell we introduced parent reps to improve the communications between parents and the Club. The managers and coaches do so much already that having an extra person to go to with any issues, feedback or ideas can be a real help.
Some managers have found that having one parent to go to about team business and decisions (after that person has canvassed opinion or feedback from the other parents) has been a much more effective and efficient way to make sure the whole team is on board.
Some reps have taken on a social or fundraising role. Some have been great at sharing stories and pictures of their team for our social media and other communication channels.
And we as a Club are now trying to communicate certain things through the reps, so they may come to you with some news or an ask from us directly in future.
Below is a list of the current parent reps. Please use them and support them. Thanks again all of you!
U7 Colts: Russell Hookey
U7 Royals: Andrew Herbert
U8 Colts: Anthony Mabb
U8 Royals: Davina Mitchell
U9 Colts: Jay Webb
U9 Royals: Andrew Breach
U10 Colts: Hayley Perrins & Honey-Leigh McCarthy
U10 Royals: Vicky Millen
U11 Colts: Amy Cunningham
U11 Royals: Piers Anscombe
U12 Colts: Nikki Gibbons
U12 Royals: Lisa Reason
U13: Colin White
U14: James Cole
U16 Girls: TBC