A rollercoaster first week

AFC Unity experienced a rollercoaster first week in competitive action this week – winning one game 7-0, and losing another 7-0.

The first game was a 5-a-side against a group with an excellent ethos, Nunny’s Funky Boots, which has engaged many women from various backgrounds in local soccer action. Before moving to Crookes, they hosted AFC Unity with a warm welcome, in their last game at Springs Leisure Centre on a hot and humid Thursday evening with a rough, hard playing surface.

Despite the conditions, the AFC Unity women won 7-0, even though Nunny’s played incredibly well and were unlucky to get more from the game.

“We want to thank the Nunny’s group for their fabulous attitude and fair play,” said manager Jay Baker. “We hope to collaborate with them and support them in the future.”

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The first-ever 11-a-side game – at Hemsworth – was slightly different.

With a threadbare squad of 13 players to Hemsworth’s 17, the rolling substitutions were always going to play a part. Nonetheless, having never played together before, AFC Unity played well and held Hemsworth to just a 2-0 lead at half-time. After some tactical changes, the team came out fighting for the second half, and threatened to pull at least one goal back, until a penalty extended Hemsworth’s lead, and opened the floodgates that led to a 7-0 victory for the home team.

“Even Hemsworth admitted the scoreline flattered them,” said Jay Baker. “The penalty stopped our momentum a bit, too, and was the total turning point for that second half. Credit to Hemsworth; they’re an experienced, physical squad, and our players are still trying to gel, get to know each other well, and become accustomed to 90 minute matches with minimal substitutes in these early days. I’m proud of them, because they insisted on playing good football even at the expense of conceding goals. They never compromised, and never stopped battling. That’s the spirit we want to see.

“In the pre-season, the results don’t matter, whether 5-a-side or 11-a-side; it’s all a learning curve. We have an intelligent team with a good foundation, and as we improve, sticking to those principles will win games in the long run.”

 

Photo credit: Melanie Naylor

AFC Unity Teams Up With Hillsborough College

AFC Unity are proud to announce that the club is – through the invaluable support of South Yorkshire Sport – entering into an exciting collaboration with Hillsborough College that will see both the creation of a development system for players and the provision of high-quality home ground with full size artificial grass field and state-of-the-art facilities, not far from the city centre.

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Due to this, AFC Unity have officially moved their home ground to Hillsborough College from the previously announced Forge Valley, who have been very understanding during this time of negotiation and preparation to enter into the second division of the Sheffield & Hallamshire Women’s County Football League.

“We are very grateful to Forge Valley for their interest,” said manager Jay Baker, “However, we felt we had to take advantage of the opportunity to have a more central base with incredible facilities via Hillsborough College, where we can also dedicate efforts to the creation of an invaluable development system in addition to our existing training sessions at the U-Mix Centre, so that we can continue to lay the building blocks of what we fully expect to be a club with longevity and – eventually – sustainability. We’d also like to thank South Yorkshire Sport for their fantastic support, as they helped us create these relationships that we hope will benefit Hillsborough College as much as it will AFC Unity.”

Travel to home games at Hillsborough College will be possible via bus or tram routes, and fixtures for the 2014/15 season will be announced soon. Details on the development system will also follow.

Funding Helps AFC Unity Grow the Game

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Grassroots soccer in Sheffield has been given a helping hand following a £1,500 Grow the Game grant from the Football Foundation, the country’s largest sports charity.

The grant will allow AFC Unity to develop our women’s 11-a-side team that is for the first time entering the Sheffield & Hallamshire Women’s County Football League. The club as a whole is aiming to initiate a range of activities and projects that will raise awareness of women’s soccer and increase engagement through tackling barriers that women face entering the sport.

The Premier League and The FA fund the Grow the Game scheme with £1.5m, which is delivered by the Football Foundation, the nation’s largest sports charity. The scheme is designed to increase participation in our national game by helping clubs to meet the essential costs of starting new teams.

The key strength of Grow the Game is that its participation increases are sustainable rather than transient. Its grants create a solid infrastructure of teams and newly-trained coaches in which new people can start playing the sport, rather than simply providing temporary activity sessions, which are then vulnerable to drops in participation once the programme ends.

This year sees a particular emphasis placed on increasing the number of teams and players from the Under-15 age bracket and above, to address the decline in participation that has traditionally occurred as young people leave school and college. The other key focus is on growing the numbers of girls’, women’s and disability teams.

Jay Baker, club manager, said: “The Football Foundation has been absolutely crucial for AFC Unity in being able to literally grow the game for AFC Unity, at a time when we’re entering the league for the 2014/15 season, and looking to build a solid basis of club sustainability long-term.”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, said: “Grow the Game has become one of the Foundation’s most popular schemes. This additional funding provided by the Premier League and The FA is excellent news for grassroots clubs seeking to start new teams and get their volunteer coaches qualified with FA coaching badges.

“Congratulations to AFC Unity for working with the Sheffield & Hallamshire FA to secure their £1,500 Grow the Game grant which will increase participation in the region as well as support football development in the area.”