By Donald C Stewart
Friday 2nd November Ayr United Girls have their fundraiser – at the Hospitality Suite! Apart from having a hoot and a great night you could find yourself being taken on a fantastic journey into supporting one of our – OK there are many – worthwhile causes. From there is it a hop, skip or a beautifully flighted free kick free to the SFA Level 1 coaching course in December that 4 volunteers (Including Amanda – see below!) are off to!
No matter where it starts the rewards reaped by the young people supported by our sterling volunteers are more than equal to the effort they out in.
Earlier this year the Daily Record recognised how hard working our coaches at Ayr United Football Academy are. Billy Alexander, were he cut in half, would bleed footballs. The thing is that Billy epitomises the work behind the scenes at the Academy with some fantastic volunteers showing their skills at schools and benefiting the community in ways beyond and above any call of any duty.
They say it takes a village to raise a child, what does it take to raise a footballer? As the Academy is getting more press with the number of players getting into the First team squad spare a thought for the work that is being done every day in the Academy teams and projects. In fact spare a thought for the girls whose coaches have continued to work over the summer and whose season continues.
One such coach is Amanda Nicol. I caught up with Amanda at training to find out what type of person gives their time to the squads that are as much a part of the Academy as anywhere else but sometimes doesn’t get the attention it deserves!
The girls squads, unlike the boy’s, take in any person interested in football. There are no trials and no approaches from Scouts. There are around 50 young girls involved with teams at under 9, under 11, under 13 and under 15. With 3 Festivals during the year, mini leagues and matches arranged to provide practice they find plenty to do on a pitch but like many volunteers, Amanda finds the work off the pitch the most taxing and where many hands help the teams work.
Starting off as a parent, Amanda soon became one of those parent/HELPER people on which the success of the organisation depends. Whilst many parents leave when their daughters do, Amanda set out to contribute more. It started with helping with the kit, it became fundraising through Psychic Nights, Parties, Bag packing and anything else that builds the squads and keeps the numbers up.
As the season runs from January through to December keeping the numbers up through the summer must be hard but being the only really string girl’s football structure in Ayrshire it is vital to maintain our commitment. Girls can play with boy’s teams up to 12 years old but then the need for their own teams are apparent. Of course it has always been part of the Academy’s philosophy to fill gaps whilst improving upon what ought to be there. Amanda and the troops fit right in!
Whilst many people do not realise that there are girls’ teams the under 13s in particular are playing above their level and making waves locally. To support their development we need far more people to come forward to do the mundane and the vital – washing the kit to helping raise cash. The
women’s game was always popular at Ayr United and the work that brought Hugh Flynn and Julie Fleeting to the club is now ongoing to provide another legacy. As Amanda said at the end of our meeting, “If girls are willing to play, we’ll train them.” Can you match that commitment and help out?