Derby County Ladies FC are already established as the largest and most successful club in Derbyshire, with three senior teams and nine academy sides playing in four different leagues for the 2017-18 season.
But our ambitions are even greater - to nuture and develop the talent of the young footballers within the club into elite female players, with the aim of taking the club to the coveted status of the Womens' Super League.
The FA's commitment to the female game has been clearly shown by the money ploughed into the England Lionesses at the UEFA Women's Championship - but life is very different where we play in the third tier of our sport. We run separately from DCFC and receive no funding from them - we only get what we raise ourselves so we need help with all the costs this involves, especially travelling to such places as Fylde, Middlesbrough and Cardiff.
History of the Club - founded in 1990 by the current Club Secretary Sheila Rollinson in collaboration with DCFC, we have grown organically from a single senior team into a hugely successful club of 12 teams for the new season.
The First Team began life in the East Midlands League, came through the Midland Combination League and has been playing in the FA Women's Premier League since 2009 when a classic 4-2 victory over Crewe Alexandra played at Pride Park secured promotion. Volunteers run our club and coach our teams with over 200 girls recently taking part in trials for the 2017-18 academy. We look for partners, not just sponsors, for our teams and look to involve them in every aspect of our club, from photoshoots at Pride Park to attendance at matches to cheer on the players.
Last season saw the First team finish in a best-ever 5th position in the FA Women's Premier League and the Development team respresent the club as they clinched the Derbyshire County FA Cup for the sixth successive season. Meanwhile the success of the u18s in lifting the Central Warwickshire League title has lead to an additional senior side being introduced for the new season and six of the Academy teams won their league and/or cup.
This season's captain says:
“I’ve been at the club for over 10 years, after joining the academy and progressing through to the First team and now it feels like my second family. I couldn’t ever imagine playing for another club. My first experience at senior level was winning promotion into the FA Women’s Premier League and scoring in the cup final to help the team lift another trophy that season. We’ve had many highs but also some tough times when we were in a relegation battle. We got through that by working as a team and fighting for each other. I believe being able to have a mini-bus for our longer away journeys will only benefit us because it will strengthen team cohesion by spending more time together and having the conversations that may not normally happen at training or on match days. It would allow the team to relax and concentrate on the game ahead rather than driving and traffic. It may not seem like a lot, but when you have to travel two hours to a game and home again afterwards the driving can be really tiring. We see other teams turn up in a mini-bus or coach and can be jealous – I think it’s our turn to be able to do that.”