Wildcats Success

Calum Oakenfold
Interview With Tony Walton

What inspired you to start a Wildcats Centre?

As a club we were looking for where we had holes and opportunities and was persuaded by Jade at the CFA to take a look at the Wildcats programme having run a few FA Programmes in the past. We had a number of girls playing in our boys teams but never had any girls only provision. The programme provided us with the right time opportunity to move forward with this.

Previously you’ve haven’t offered any girls provision and since starting this centre have managed to attract 37 girls to the sessions. How have you done this?

Firstly hard work, you have to put the effort in, you don’t get nothing without this. We looked into talking with schools and approached them to deliver taster sessions in each area, aligned to the Wildcats ethos. This was coupled with the schools promoting via their social media channels. We also tried new ways of promoting including putting the leaflets in barber’s shops, which could be picked up by parents and also sisters waiting for their brothers to have their hair cut. We are also heavily utilise social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to provide updates weekly and receive feedback from parents. If you sit back then you won’t be successful!

Would you say attracting this many girls has been your biggest success so far? What else would you say has been a success?

This has been the biggest success, as a club, we have ever run. It has brought the club together and galvanised everybody to become part of the club and what we are trying to achieve. For us it is about offering the whole family the whole package.

So would you say the club has more of a community feel?

That’s exactly what we are trying to do; we are trying to be the community club. We want to be there so everybody can access football and be involved with the football club. We are now looking into our offer of inclusive sessions to support those wanting to play in the local area.


Have there been any challenges you’ve encountered during the delivery?

As with every programme, as you know, there will always be challenges. The biggest challenges for us is trying to attract coaches into the club, we have utilised the funding we received from the FA to support this. We have a number of male coaches within the club who have all helped deliver the programme however we are looking for a female coach specifically to deliver the Wildcats programme and develop the female section of the club.

What has been the most rewarding part of delivering the sessions?

Seeing the girls having fun and enjoying and wanting to be there every week! We’ve also been very fortunate with the weather this year, we’ve only had 1 wet week and still the majority of girls turned up. We also make the sessions enjoyable for everybody to ensure that everybody wants to be there. For me there is nothing worse than a young person desperate to play but there parents aren’t interested. Thus we encourage everybody to get involved and try and ensure they included within the sessions.

What are your plans for the future? More centres or teams?

First and foremost were going to have a rest until September; it will give me chance to have a holiday! We will then be setting the sessions back up with the aim been to enter a team into the Doncaster & District Junior League (Ed – who have started a girls under 9 section this season). We could pull a team together tomorrow with the girls and their interest, however going back to an earlier point we need the coaches and volunteers to support the delivery of this. I don’t want to see all the effort and commitment that everybody has put in so far to go to waste, and it won’t as we are committed to trying to enter a team before December.

What has the support from us here at the County FA done to support and help your delivery?

The support from the off has been tremendous, without the information provided from the start we would have been rudderless. The ongoing support has also been excellent with regards to the feedback and continuous communication from you as we strive to make the programme bigger, better and stronger next year.


Parent Questions & Answers

What inspired you to bring your daughter to the Wildcats Session at Armthorpe Wolves?

I saw the session advertised on social media and saw it was local so we thought we go along and give it a try. (Louise)

My daughter asked to go along, my first thought was “really”, however she was persistent and wanted to play. (Shereen)

She really enjoys football and wanted to go along. (Katie)


What do you, as a parent or guardian, enjoy most about the sessions?

The coaches are very friendly and all the girls can play and join in without any pressure. (Louise)

The atmosphere and environment are excellent, very friendly. (Shereen)

She really enjoys the sessions and the coaches are really good with the girls. (Katie)


If you could sum up the Wildcats programme in 3 words what would they be?

Fun, Friendly & Enjoyable. (Louise)

Friendly, Fun & Exciting. (Shereen)