SOLIHULL Ladies FC will take their place in the newly restructured FA Women’s Premier League (WPL) next weekend when they play FC Reedswood at home in the Midlands Division One.
The FA WPL has 72 clubs and incorporates the former WPL and Combination Leagues adn Solihull will be playing in the second tier.
This new move by the FA means that for the first time these leagues will be linked to the elite Women’s Super League where Birmingham City Lasdies play with promtion to the Premier and
The club was established in 1994 as Shirley Town and became known as Solihull Ladies in 2004 with the amalgamation of players from Shirley Town, Billesley Ladies, Woodbourne Ladies and Solihull Glades.
So far this pre-season the Ladies have played beaten Coventry Sphinx Ladies 6-2, suffered defeat to Cardiff Met Uni Ladies 4-0 and drawn with Leafield Athletic Ladies 1-1.
The Ladies were champions of the West Midlands Premier League in 2012/13 season and were promoted to the Women’s Midland Combination and managed to stave off relegation last season, which meant that would be part of the FA’s new Midlands Division One.
At 31 the team captain, Joanna Pointon is the oldest player and has been at the club eight years but says she is enjoying her time at the at the club more than ever.
“This is the highest level we have ever played at – last year we survived relegation and kept our place in the league whereas the previous three seasons the team that came up went staright back down.” she said.
“It’s especially impressive when you think we are an independent sports club and have no affiliation to a big team. The club has come on leaps and bounds.
“When I started we didn’t have a reserve team and we were a player-led committee.
“Now we have Chike as chairman and people on his committee.
“In terms of the players committments outside of football it’s 50-50 – some are in education and work part-time and others, like myself, are in full-time work.
“The youngest in the club is 17.
“I’m buzzing, it’s the best preperation we’ve had and we are all raring to go.
“We have up to 40 girls signed and we have had a really productive pre-season so far.
“We have a new manager and coach have been pushing our fitness to higher levels. We are really excited to be part of the new restructured league.
“The team has new ambition and we want to finish around mid-table.
“During the pre-season we have been training three times a week and twice when we have a game.”
New chairman Chike Okwuadigbo was manager last season and said he jumped at the opportunity to become chairman and put some of the ideas he had for the club into motion.
“For me to become chairman was a natural progression .” he said.
“The position became vacant and I had so many ideas to develop the club that I wouldn’t have been able to do as the manager.
“What we have now is a more professional environment and we are heavily promoting the club so that we can attract better players.
“We have always had a reputation as a family-orientated club and we have joined together with having more competitiveness on the pitch.
“The league restructuring will enhance the women’s game nationally and from a regional perspective will do wonders for the reputation.
“The Women’s Super league has given the women’s game in this country a massive boost and led to more exposure.
“What the FA have done with the regional leagues is a fantastic and bold step and it is now possible for teams to be promoted to the Super League, setting up a real national structure.”
New Manager Mike Olds a former manager of five years with Tamworth side Dosthill Colts Ladies said its was a big achievement for the team to survive last year and he was keen to keep improving.
“These are exciting times and the recognition by the FA what was needed was a strong coherent league structure is great. It brings everything together a lot more. People will take more notice and we will be able to show more people what we’re about.
“And that is a club ready to push on and we have a very committed group of girls.
“Players like Jo who have the club at their hearts is great for myself and the team to work with. Many of them have jobs and all pay their subs and put money into the club.
“We have brought in some quality players adn part of the new ethos is to be more organised and structured. We will now push for mid-table by Christmas and then sit down after that and look at how we can improve.”
The Club is still looking to bolster our its coaching staff and anyone interested should email the chairman: [email protected].
The team play their home fixtures at Chelmsley Town FC, Coleshill Road, Marston Green, Birmingham, B37 7HW.