Originally the “Harrogate & District Women & Girls Football Development Group” was established on the 16th May 2002, this group was formed to develop girls and women’s football in the area.
This group was driven by Anna Frearson, then of Knaresborough Town Ladies FC, Harrogate Borough Council and the WRCFA and was supported by a host of local junior clubs.
Prior to this group forming, an approach was made to the Harrogate Boy’s League to incorporate a girls section alongside the boys section. The League Secretary at the time was Ian Brown and the first playing season for the girls was 2003/2004.
The girl’s league has worked and developed alongside the boy’s league ever since, mirroring the same rule changes, developments and initiatives.
Some of the founder member clubs in the girl’s league are as follows:
- Killinghall Nomads
- Knaresborough Celtic
- Wetherby Athletic
- Harrogate Railway
- Ripon City Panthers
- Pannal Ash
The League has facilitated girl’s football for teams as far away as Hemsworth in West Yorkshire and Bedale in North Yorkshire & Southpark Rangers in Middlesbrough, but mainly serves the Harrogate District and North Leeds postcode areas.
In the season 2020/2021 the League has 46 member teams and has steadily increased on a yearly basis, which is successfully governed by the current voluntary League Management Committee.
Recently the new concept of free girl’s galas was used by the Harrogate and District JGFL to attract girls in the area to play football and develop their skills and have organised fun whilst doing so. The very first free Harrogate and District gala took place at Scotton Scorchers and was aimed at under 9 to under 11 year olds.
Using our own development funds, funding from the WRCFA and the kind sponsorship from Harrogate Town AFC the Harrogate and District JGFL hired Harrogate Town CNG Stadium, (3G pitch) to host a free girl’s gala for under 9 to under 11 year olds and we were delighted to see so many girls attending from all over the Harrogate and District area as well as the surrounding region.
Due to the ongoing demand and success the free galas have been held at various Clubs throughout the region including the following venues:
Scotton Scorchers / Bedale / Harrogate Railway / Knaresborough Celtic / Killinghall Nomads and Harrogate Town.
Due to the increased demand for the current galas in the season 2020-2021 under 7 to under 8 year olds are now playing gala football with this season’s under 9s, under 10s and under 11s playing their own development football within the Harrogate & District League structure, as well as tournaments, which is a resounding success for all the hard work put in by the organisers and by the League.
Over the years it has been a common response from clubs in the region to say that they are unable to form girl’s teams due to them not always having sufficient numbers of players to join the League, allowing girls to develop their game and not playing their football in a structured League format. This new venture from the League will hopefully address this issue and see a boom in girls football in the Harrogate region.
The galas will be held monthly and the League are keen to stress that, although 5 aside, club’s will be encouraged to send whatever number of girls they have available even if only 1 girl can attend. Individuals with no club attachment will also be encouraged to attend with these girls slotting into existing teams or, if the numbers are good, forming a Harrogate and District representative team for the day.
The parent of one such girl who attended as an individual had this to say about the event:
“Just wanted to say thank-you for yesterday. My daughter really enjoyed it! Love what you are doing, certainly the right way to go. Lots of game time for the girls and good mix of abilities. The way you did it stopped the huge defeats that new teams often have and get put off football for. Definitely the future!”
Harrogate and District JGFL Gala Coordinator, David Terzza, said “The girls galas are a huge step for the League to support girls football. All the girls loved the opportunity to take part in the gala in an organised event in a centralised venue for teams within the Harrogate area. We have been contacted by many clubs now interested in setting up girl’s teams. Many parents at the gala expressed how happy they are to attend local girl’s events rather than spending the whole day travelling. We hope with such a positive start we can progress and develop girl’s football within our League boundaries with the support of all our League clubs.”
WRCFA’s Women & Girls Development Officer, Steve Conboy had this to say: “Since coming into post I made mini soccer my priority across the county by assisting and introducing the gala concept to the Harrogate Girl’s League of which they delivered 10 of over the course of the first season. The introduction of the same gala concept by what was a predominately a boy’s League and in an area underrepresented for girls football is a massive plus for boosting the number of girls playing football.”
FA’s ‘For Girls’ Website: H&DGFL Twitter: H&DGFL Facebook: