Football, Volunteers, Friends

by Libby Comyn

Just one of the many things that sets AFC Unity apart from other clubs, female and male, is the involvement and dedication from its volunteers.

The amount of people from all ages, experiences and backgrounds that have come together to help and be a part of this club is incredible and I feel really shows the essence of what this club is all about: UNITY.

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Just one of these many volunteers is Anna Pickering, a 19 year-old student who is Unity’s sports psychologist volunteer.

Sports psychology is a relatively new but growing specialism. It concentrates on how both psychological factors affect performance and how participation in sports affects psychological development, health and wellbeing.

It’s a new but extremely beneficial asset for any team to have and has a really positive personal impact for individual players and for a team as a whole. For AFC Unity to be able to have access to a sports psychologist goes to show their growth and commitment to creating a talented, supportive and well-rounded club.

I got the chance to interview Anna at a recent Unity game, which she attends weekly to give her support. Anna is a born-and-bred Sheffield’er, bubbly and approachable, and was one of the first people I really got to know at Unity – and she really put me at ease and helped get me involved. She has always been interested in football, supporting Sheffield Wednesday since she was little and herself playing for a short while, so when the chance to gain experience in not only a psychology role but also in a football-related environment came about, she jumped at it. Anna is currently in her last year at AFC Unity’s home of Hillsborough College, where she is studying Level 3 health and social care, and has recently accepted an offer from The University of Sheffield to further her studies in Psychology this coming academic year.

As for a future career, Anna is still undecided, but boasts three incredible placements: volunteering for local eating disorder charity SYEDA, on the psychology ward at Sheffield’s Children’s Hospital, and as Unity’s very own sports psychologist. This just goes to show her commitment and expanding experience in the field.

More specifically, her involvement with Unity is primarily to provide professional support for players – before, during, and after matches. Anna has also teamed up with Unity’s second sports psychologist, Francesca Wilkinson, who attends the training sessions. Here they communicate and work together to match each other’s training plans and sessions so the players receive tailored and structured support during difficult or frustrating moments during the match.

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Anna also spoke about being a support for players coming back after injury, addressing their anxieties and building their confidence so they feel both physically and mentally ready to get back on the pitch. She said because strong friendships have been built over her time at Unity, she can start to see the benefits of her work and receives more positive responses from players who now feel comfortable to raise their worries, frustrations and happiness with her – something I witnessed a lot of during and after the match we attended.

Anna’s enthusiasm was evident throughout our interview and it was great to see the passion and enjoyment she got out of her volunteering; her thoughts on the club and her experience truly show what a great team it is to be a part of, both on and off the pitch.

‘I love the belief and positivity of the club, which brings together so many different people, from all ages and backgrounds,’ said Anna. ‘The club is fair on everyone and I really believe in the ethos it stands for. The volunteer programme is amazing and it not only provides the club and players with these extra support and resources, but it also allows for people like myself to gain these incredible opportunities and experiences – whilst making some great friends in the process. I’m very proud to be a part of it.’

Photographs by Yin-Hsuan Liang

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Celebrating the AFC Unity 5 Stars

Our 5-a-side team, 5 Stars, have played 3 successful seasons in the Sheffield Powerleague since forming last year. They were due to play their last game on the 10th of March but with both opposing teams pulling out they instead enjoyed a fun kick-about with their Coach Jonny Hodgson who will be moving on from the club after next Monday’s training session.

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We would like to thank all women that have been involved and played as part of the 5 Stars. AFC Unity will be having a club break after next Monday’s training session (pending one 11-a-side game left on the 20th of March for our first team) and this will signal the start of many exciting changes happening.

We will be announcing more details of this at a later date but for now let’s reflect and celebrate the successes of the 5 Stars and everyone who has been involved in helping make this happen. A special thank you goes to Jonny Hodgson for all the time he has put into organising the games and training for the women involved in the 5 Stars. The results of the 5 Stars’ last three seasons are included below – why not check them out.

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First Season Results

13th of August 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 4 – 27 Greasborough FC (Goals for AFC Unity came from Amy Ward, Bridie Mayock, Charlotte Pridmore and Rachel Dixon).

20th of August 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 1 – 44 All For The Badge FC (AFC Unity’s goal came from Red Lester)

27th of August 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 5 – 15 Greasborough FC (Goals for AFC Unity came from Bridie Mayock, Charlotte Pidmore and Rachel Dixon *2)

3rd of September 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 2 – 24 All For The Badge FC (AFC Unity’s goals came from Bridie Mayock *2)

3rd of September 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 5 – 21 Chamakh My Pitch Up! (AFC Unity’s goals came from Rebecca Gay, Red Lester, Rachel Dixon and Bridie Mayock *2)

10th of September 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 3 – 13 Socrates (AFC Unity’s goals came from Bridie Mayock *2 and Rachel Dixon)

10th of September 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 3 – 27 Sheffield United Ladies (AFC Unity’s goals came from Jodean Wadsworth *2 and Rachel Dixon)

17th of September 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 4 – 11 Chamakh My Pitch Up! (AFC Unity’s goals came from Rachel Dixon, Bridie Mayock *2 and an own goal)

17th of September 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 5 – 51 Red Army (AFC Unity’s goals came from Rachel Dixon, Bridie Mayock, Amy Ward *2 and Sophie Wendell)

24th of September 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 3 – 22 Amberazor (AFC Unity’s goals came from Dora Dixon * 2 and Red Lester)

1st of October 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 9 – 21 SGFC (AFC Unity’s goals came from Rachel Dixon *3, Dora Dixon *3 and Bridie Mayock *3)

8th of October 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 9 – 28 SGFC (AFC Unity’s goals came from Rachel Dixon *3, Red Lester, Rebecca Gay * 2, Bridie Mayock and Jodean Wadsworth *2)

15th of October 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 4 – 31 Red Army (AFC Unity’s goals came from Rachel Dixon, Red Lester, Bridie Mayock and Alice Thomas)

15th of October 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 1 – 41 Sheffield United Ladies (AFC Unity’s goal came from Charlotte Pridmore)

Second Season Results

22nd of October 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 3 – 32 Amber Rose (AFC Unity’s goals came from Charlotte Pridmore *2 and Alice Thomas)

29th of October 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 3 – 32 Intominandos (AFC Unity’s goals came from Olivia Johnson *2 and Rachel Dixon)

29th of October 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars win 10 – 0 through default because the other team didn’t turn up.

5th of November 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 6 – 42 Balls of Steel (AFC Unity’s goals came from Ella Rossa *2, Rachel Dixon *2, Rebecca Gay and Bridie Mayock).

12th of November 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 23 – 2 Top Club Ladies (AFC Unity’s goals came from Ella Rossa *7, Bridie Mayock *5, Rachel Dixon *5, Red Lester *4, Alice Thomas and Sophie Wendell).

12th of November 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 10 – 19 SGFC (AFC Unity’s goals came from Ella Rossa *4, Rachel Dixon *3, Alice Thomas *2 and Sophie Wendell).

19th of November 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 14 – 18 Chamakh My Pitch Up (AFC Unity’s goals came from Ella Rossa *5, Dora Dixon *4, Bridie Mayock *3 and Alice Thomas *2).

26th of November 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 13 – 11 Amber Alert (AFC Unity’s goals came from Dora Dixon *2, Bridie Mayock *3, Rebecca Gay, Alice Thomas *4 and Olivia Johnson *3).

3rd of December 2015: AFC Unity 3 – 40 Balls of Steel (AFC Unity’s goals came from Bridie Mayock and Olivia Johnson *2).

10th of December 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars win 10 – 0 through default because the other team didn’t turn up.

10th of December 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 1 – 25 Red Army (AFC Unity’s goal came from Dora Dixon).

17th of December 2015: AFC Unity 5 Stars 5 – 11 Socratites (AFC Unity’s goals came from Ella Rossa *2, Jodean Wadsworth *2 and Red Lester).

Third Season Results

7th of January 2016: AFC Unity 5 Stars 8 – 13 Chamakh My Pitch Up (AFC Unity’s goals came from Ellen Holmes, Ella Rossa *3, Red Lester and Dora Dixon *3).

14th of January 2016: AFC Unity 5 Stars 0 – 26 Into Mi Nandos

14th of January 2016: AFC Unity 5 Stars 3 – 38 Balls of Steel (AFC Unity’s goals came from Olivia Johnson *2 and Red Lester)

21st of January 2016: AFC Unity 5 Stars 10 – 9 Chamakh My Pitch Up (AFC Unity’s goals came from Alice Thomas *5, Olivia Johnson *2, Josie Amery and Ellen Holmes *2)

28th of January 2016: AFC Unity 4 – 28 Into My Nandos (AFC Unity’s goals came from Olivia Johnson, Ella Rossa *2 and Jodean Wadsworth)

4th of February 2016: AFC Unity 8 – 15 Socratites (AFC Unity’s goals came from Ella Rossa *4, Olivia Johnson *3 and Bridie Mayock)

11th of February 2016: AFC Unity 4 – 33 A new team that has yet to choose a name (AFC Unity’s goals came from Amy Ward, Jodean Wadsworth *2 and Charlotte Pridmore)

18th of February 2016: AFC Unity 4 – 8 Bottom of the League (AFC Unity’s goals came from Alice Thomas *3 and Olivia Johnson)

25th of February 2016: AFC Unity 1 – 42 Balls of Steel (AFC Unity’s goal came from Ellen Holmes)