Middlesbrough Women Football Club has teamed up with Teesside University to help support players from grassroots towards future footballing careers. The University currently runs a Football Association Girl’s Regional Talent Club (RTC), which helps to identify talented young players, while the University’s women’s football team currently competes in the second tier of the British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS) league. Middlesbrough Women FC (MWFC) play in the third tier of the FA Women’s National League.
The aim of working together is to further develop links already in place to create a Dual Football Programme involving MWFC and Teesside University BUCS Team, who are managed by colleagues in Teesside University Students’ Union.
As part of the partnership the club is providing exclusive football coaching support to the University’s RTC and BUCS team, with the involvement helping to bolster the University’s Performance Sport offer within women’s football. Opportunities are also being explored for the club to participate in evidence-based research in collaboration with the University.
Greg Aspin, Performance Sports Co-ordinator and Strength & Conditioning Coach at Teesside University, said: “We have been working with MWFC providing strength and conditioning support on a consultancy basis and we’re aiming to strengthen those links as we’re all working towards the same goal. Teesside University staff have published internationally recognised research in women’s and girls’ football and this relationship will only strengthen the opportunities to collaborate in impactful research to enhance performance on the pitch.”
He added: “Young footballers coming through the Regional Talent Club can go on to great things and we’re helping to develop and retain talent. For this reason, we’re creating a dual football programme. Our aim is to become a hub for women’s football performance in the North East of England, renowned for the development of female footballers along our unique pathway. The primary aim is to help footballers to compete at the highest levels of University football and within the English women’s football leagues.”
Ben Fisher, MWFC Chairman, said: “We are delighted to be part of this exciting partnership which will strengthen our intent as a club to create something special here on Teesside for Women’s Football. The Teesside area has continually produced talented footballers within the women’s game, and we are confident that this partnership will provide amazing opportunities to players.
“Together over recent months Middlesbrough Women FC and Teesside University have worked in partnership to develop a vision of women’s football, developing a hub of local talent. We will offer a bespoke pathway from junior to international football. This partnership offers an opportunity to demonstrate to players that they can achieve their dreams of playing football at an elite level right here in Middlesbrough.
“With the successful foundations of the Regional Talent Centre and BUCS team successfully established within the University, this partnership will see Middlesbrough Women FC and women’s football at Teesside University go from strength to strength.”
This shared goal is backed by Teesside University graduate Beth Mead, who plays for Arsenal Women and is part of the England Senior Lionesses squad, along with Birmingham City Women midfielder Emma Kelly.
Beth said: “Teesside University helped my development both on and off the pitch, going above and beyond to provide the help and support I needed to play at the highest level while completing my studies. Using the facilities at the University to complete my strength and conditioning sessions helped me to become the athlete I am today.”
She added: “It is great to see Middlesbrough Women Football Club working in partnership with Teesside University. The team will benefit from the added support and facilities. It’s a great step in helping them move forward and becoming a stronger team to compete at the highest level.”
Emma said: “I owe a lot to Middlesbrough Women Football Club, having started my football journey there. Their philosophy for developing players throughout the different age groups is outstanding, and as a result they regularly produce amazing talented young female footballers.
“I am delighted to hear about the partnership between Middlesbrough Women Football Club and Teesside University. I have personal experience working with the strength and conditioning staff who demonstrate a vast range of knowledge. I know the players are in good hands and going to get the best support.”