AJs: Raising the Bar for Girls Football in Bolton 17/18

Academy Juniors, AJs, grassroots football, junior football, girls football, Bolton, charter standard, coaching and development, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, Green Army, family club, football club, leadership, management

As we look to get set for our impressive 10th season in 17/18, our volunteers at Academy Juniors are working hard to ensure it’s a season of success both on and off the pitch for girls football in Bolton.

What do we mean by this?  Well, as we’re growing, we’re changing.  Academy Juniors FC have always promoted the ethos for our players that every girl who throws on an AJs kit should be able to train in the most developmental of sessions under the leadership of the most professional of coaches, and that every girl who kicks a ball in the name of Academy Juniors should have the opportunity to participate, develop and have fun at every turn whilst part of our family club.  It’s now important for us to promote this same ethos for girls football in Bolton amongst the very people who make all of this possible – our volunteers!

Grassroots junior football clubs are in 99% of cases run purely by volunteers.  These people have jobs, families and commitments of their own, yet they tirelessly give up their time and energy to ensure that young people get the best opportunities to participate in something that nurtures and develops them in the most holistic ways possible.  At Academy Juniors, we want to reward this commitment with more than just the smiling faces of happy girls each week – although this obviously takes some bettering!

Our volunteers fulfil many roles both on and off the pitch; in both coaching capacities and committee commitments in order to promote girls football in Bolton.  Regardless of their role, for the 2017/18 season, AJs are working hard to secure funding to ensure that ALL volunteers are able to progress through a fully accredited training programme to boost their professional and personal development.  As standard, this will include the necessary FA Coaching Badges and Safeguarding/ Welfare/ First Aid training, but this isn’t enough for us anymore as we seek to lead on girls football in Bolton.  This season, everyone will be looking to ‘up their game’ by being mentored through CMI Leadership and Management qualifications, too!

Not only is this going to provide a huge boost to our volunteers in terms of supporting them with the true ‘management’ aspects of their roles that go on behind the scenes and before the whistles, but it will also be a massive addition to the personal portfolios that our dedicated individuals will take on into the world with them.  It feels like a lot of them have been around forever (that’s a good thing), but some of our volunteers at AJs are just teenagers, and we want to equip those coaches in particular with as much skill, knowledge and application as we can to help put them ahead at college, university and in the search for that dream job – as an employee or even as a small business owner in their own right.  For some of our more experienced coaches, it is hoped that these highly sought after business qualifications will be a way for them to convince the boss at work that they’re worthy of a pay rise this year.  Short of being able to pay them ourselves, it’s the best we can hope for!  In a similar fashion, some of our volunteers will be going through qualifications specific to fitness and training, in the hope that they will serve in whole-club roles to support the physical development and fitness of each of our girls here at AJs.  More details to follow!

We’d like to thank all of the volunteers who have taken the time to meet with the Committee over the past month or so to help us put all of these plans together for the sake of the whole Club.  Obviously, personnel will change from season to season at any club, and so whilst we look forward to welcoming some new (and returning) friendly faces, we also say goodbye to some faithful friends.  We know that our players, parents and guardians will respect their decision to move on if they know that they cannot fully commit to the great deal that is asked of them for this coming season.  We will never be able to thank those people enough, but we look forward to seeing them on the sidelines at Academy Juniors matches this season, cheering on our girls – the very people we’re all here to support!

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