Carol Bates tells all about COGs
As Crawley Old Girls prepare for this year's FA People's Cup campaign in the Female Veteran category, founder member Carol Bates explains how the club came about.
When I speak to the girls involved with us, many of them say that Crawley Old Girls has changed their life.
I know it’s changed my life, because it’s become so popular that the organisation of it is like a part-time job.
We’ve come a long way in the two and a half years since we started out with just ten of us present for our first training session, after I’d begged the Football League Trust for some funding to help set things up.
I’ve always had a passion for football, ever since me and my sister used to follow my dad playing every week in the local non-League.
But in the 70s, when I was young enough to play, we weren’t allowed to play football so it got to a stage when I was 48 when I just really wanted to have a kick-about somewhere.
A lot of the girls have kids who play football, pitchside mums if you will, and there’s so many women of our age who absolutely love football but couldn’t go and play in a league so we just started out playing recreationally for fun.
It’s not competitive, it started off with coaching for mini-soccer at the basic level and we quickly grew and now we have over 20 people coming every week to train at three sessions a week and we get involved in competitions like the FA People’s Cup, which has been brilliant for us.
I call us the ‘missed generation’ of women’s football because in the 70s when we were all growing up, we weren’t allowed to play football and then it was too late for us by the time it came in.
We just really want to inspire other women to get out there, because there must be tens of thousands of women like me who love football and want to get out there.
To just come along for an hour a week, enjoy some coaching and play a game, people just love it and you see the benefits in people whether it’s mental health and well-being, fitness or confidence.
You can’t put a price on it and when you play in these tournaments and festivals, the buzz that you get from that when you see the women and watch people play against each other is just amazing.
The FA People’s Cup will always have a special place in our hearts, as we played our first competitive game in the competition in 2015 and since then, it’s gone from strength-to-strength.
It's an opportunity to test ourselves and there are more recreational teams like us popping up across the country so it’s still growing and that makes me so pleased.
The first year we entered, there weren’t too many female veteran teams around, it was just us and four other teams in the country so we went straight to the Finals.
But we had such a brilliant time being involved in it and then last year, we took six teams to be involved from the first round in Southampton. We went down the night before and the camaraderie between such a big group of women was great, we all had fun and it’s been really good.
We know that this year’s People’s Cup will be even harder, we played against some former professionals from Southampton last year, and this year there will be a lot more recreational teams involved.
Entry to the People's Cup is FREE to all teams and we have 18 different categories to choose from, ranging from Veteran Ladies to U14 Boys. Find out more and sign up now with the first round fast approaching.
By Carol Bates
Crawley Old Girls, founder member
To contact Crawley Old Girls please see below:
Crawley Old Girls
T: 01293 410000/ 07837 523370