Barnett backs Bulls bid

THE creation of a Jersey Bulls women’s team is a step in the right direction and puts in place a player performance pathway for the Island’s female footballers –according to two prominent club players.

Jersey Wanderers captain Libby Barnett backs Jersey Bulls bid to launch women's team Picture: ROB CURRIE. (32072142)
Jersey Wanderers captain Libby Barnett backs Jersey Bulls bid to launch women's team Picture: ROB CURRIE. (32072142)

Officials for the Bulls have this week stated their intention to develop a women’s side that will play in the national system in England – as the men’s and youth sides do.

The women’s side would play their home games at Springfield – and would compete in 18 fixtures a season – which would be played on differing weekends to the Jersey Women’s League to allow players to play for both the Bulls and their clubs.

Libby Barnett, captain of Jersey Wanderers Women, and Rozel Rovers’ Eve Watson, both long-time representatives of the women’s Jersey team, have welcomed the idea and believe it will provide a player performance pathway for the Island’s players, something that has been missing for a number of years.

Barnett said: ‘From my point of view, it is definitely welcomed. There are mixed views from some, but we have needed a pathway for women for a long time.

‘Between the ages of 13 and 16 we see a lot of girls dropping out of football, and other sports, but this pathway could be an incentive for them to remain in football, and stop us losing them to other sports, such as netball.

‘On a personal level, it is brilliant. The local league has been struggling over the last few years and we are down to four teams now, and something fresh was needed.

‘We don’t want it to be at the expense of the local league, which we are told it won’t be. It will be something that is going to complement the local league, which is really good to hear.

‘Also, a lot of the women coach in the junior sections at clubs, so that has been taken into account as well – any impact on junior football – and I think it is really exciting, and I’m looking forward to seeing it develop moving forward.

‘There is always going to be a fear from some sections about the local league.

‘I think a few people are sceptical at the moment because with the Bulls men’s team, it was there to complement the local league, but because of the demands of playing in that English league, and the travelling, the Bulls players don’t really play for their local clubs anymore.

‘So that is a concern for some people but it is a big consideration of this plan to have the performance player pathway option with the Bulls, and to be able to continue the social league that is run by the JFA.

‘The men’s side has been a real success – I and everyone else have been watching and been a fan, and it has been great to be a part of something exciting, and have a women’s side involved will feel like even more of a community, and having different provisions and watching the club expand is going to be exciting.’

Eve Watson also threw her weight behind Bulls’ bid.

‘It is definitely something I would love to be involved in and something I only wished I could have looked forward to when I was 16,’ she said.

‘I can’t speak for the other girls but I think they will be just as buzzing for it. I’ve seen how much they’ve enjoyed playing competitively in the UK for Jersey and competing in the Island Games competitions.

‘As a player who has played in the women’s league since I was 16, playing the same teams week in, week out – it gets frustrating. There are a considerable amount of local girls enjoying football and it’s great to see the talent that is coming through. We have a great filter from all the hard work the clubs are doing in developing our younger generation and keeping the girls keen to play football so for the girls to be able to strive to a bigger platform one day and have a women’s Bulls team would be amazing.

‘I personally think it could make the Jersey league much stronger using games to experience tougher competition and with that in mind having the incentive to play more competitively in the UK or in front of home supporters which in turn could also spur on other girls to start playing football like we saw from the Island Games in 2015.’

The Bulls have sent a memorandum to the Jersey Football Association and the four clubs in the Jersey Women’s League, and followed it up with a meeting to further discuss the plans.

The club has also stated that it hopes by providing a women’s team it will encourage increased participation amongst girls and women in the Island that may also lead to increasing the number of sides in the JWL.

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