A NEW sports pavilion will help an amateur Oxford football club meet rising demand for women’s teams, its secretary has said.
Hinksey Park Football Club wants to attract female players to play at the new facilities at Grandpont Nature Park.
The club’s secretary Mick Conmy said it had been hamstrung in providing for girls’ teams until now because it could not offer segregated changing rooms.
But these will be included in the £750,000 pavilion, off Abingdon Road, which will open on July 5.
Now the club wants girls in school years eight, nine and 10 for its new under-15 girls’ team.
Mr Conmy, 50, who has been involved with the club for five years, said: “As a club we are looking to capitalise on the growing interest in girls’ football and now we are able to accommodate it with these facilities.
“There are separate changing rooms for girls and boys, there are catering facilities and a community room, so there will be plenty there.”
It has already recruited six girls for the team after youngsters from Oxford’s Cheney School approached the club, as well as a coach and an assistant manager.
But the team must have a squad of 18 to compete.
The club operates 16 boys’ teams from ages five to 17, while membership has risen by about 20 per cent a year for the past three to four years, according to Mr Conmy, making it one of the largest and fastest growing in the city. Mr Conmy said: “We have approached schools and we are hoping to get the word out there just a bit more.”
City planners approved the proposals back in October as part of a £3.1m project to rejuvenate sports pavilions across Oxford.
Leader of Oxford City Council and ward member for Hinksey Park councillor Bob Price said the facilities would provide a welcome boost to the team.
He said: “The pavilion has been built because the Hinksey Park Football Club is the most successful club in Oxford.
“I think it also provides a boost to the growth of the club because they have a great capacity to take on more teams.
“From the club’s point of view it’s tremendous, and from the community point of view there’s a community room on the site.”
Women’s football has grown in popularity in the past two decades, with the number of players in the UK rising from 10,400 in 1993 to about 150,000 now.
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