Ladies leading the way

After the Lionesses inspired a nation, Enfield Town Ladies make progress on and off the pitch, writes Andrew Warshaw

The current Enfield Town Ladies squad
The current Enfield Town Ladies squad

With England’s success at the European Women’s Championship still fresh in the mind, there is perhaps no better time to focus on how Enfield Town’s ladies team is stamping its own mark on the borough’s footballing landscape.

Enfield Town Ladies FC – founded in 1985 – has grown to become one the largest and longest-established women’s clubs in the south-east of the country, fielding no fewer than eleven age groups and boasting 160 members. The first team is currently competing in the London ad South East Regional Women’s League, which is step five of the women’s football pyramid.

Sponsorship is just as important to the ladies as it is to the men and, in July, Enfield Town Ladies FC announced a two-year agreement with London Energy which will see the Edmonton-based waste management firm become the main shirt sponsor for the club’s first team.

Commenting on the deal, Enfield Town Ladies FC chair Richard Blundell said: “Their support enables us to continue to provide opportunities for girls and women from the local community to play and enjoy football.”

No-one has done more to put football on the map for women in Enfield than Sharon Harrison-Barker, who was one of Enfield Town Ladies’ founding members. She fulfilled many roles at the club over a long period of time, including chair, first-team manager and youth team manager.

The club’s success was achieved against the backdrop of a lack of facilities and funding and a perceived lack of interest in the female game. “Without Sharon the club simply wouldn’t be where it is today,” says Claire Ford, the club’s general secretary.

Sharon, who was involved with the club for some 20 years and still avidly follows their fortunes, takes enormous pride in her role. In particular, she was instrumental in cementing ties with Enfield FC in the late 1980s, before the formation of Enfield Town FC. It was a partnership, she says, that helped grow the ladies team to where it is now.

“We did whatever we could to provide football facilities for girls and women in the borough,” Sharon told the Dispatch. “We went from literally five players at first to running multiple age groups of eleven-a-side teams.”

Sharon is convinced that the title-winning Lionesses will have a hugely beneficial effect on the women’s game, both locally and nationally.

“I think it will be a massive turning point. The women’s game has never had the same pulling power as the men but now it can sell-out grounds, with even men going with other men to watch. That’s totally different to the old adage of dad going along with his daughter. The world is now our oyster.”

Meanwhile, although the men’s team has made a slow start to the season, some key additions have been made to the squad. Kyri Neocleous has been appointed first-team goalkeeping coach. Kyri is no stranger to Enfield Town as a former manager of Enfield Town Ladies, and was most recently goalkeeping coach at National League South side Braintree Town.

In terms of the playing staff, midfielder Blaise Riley-Snow has joined on a dual registration from Cheshunt FC. Blaise spent last season in Scotland, playing for Raith Rovers and Alloa Athletic, having previously been a professional in Spain.

Find out more about Enfield Town Ladies:

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