As part of our #MFAFFF spotlight month, we are looking at the way in which Regional Talent Clubs (RTC’s) benefit young female players to progress in their playing career. RTC is the new structure and name for the Girl’s Centres of Excellence and they play a vital role in helping young female players along the professional pathway.
Most players start their playing life in school football or casually with friends in a recreational setting, such as the SSE Wildcats program, a provision for girls aged 5-11 years. At this stage, it is about introducing girls to the game in a fun and friendly environment.
Players then progress into a club environment, where they will train and play matches on a weekly basis to develop their skills and game understanding. Clubs play within female-only or mixed football leagues, which permit male and female players up to the age of 18 to play together. Female players must then play in a female-only environment after the age of 18.
So what is the next step for players in clubs with the ambition to turn professional and eventually represent their country? The Regional Talent Club programme.
RTC trials are held in June each year and give girls the opportunity to trial on an annual basis for the next level of female football development. Within the Greater Manchester area, Manchester United and Manchester City both offer the opportunity to trial for their RTC’s and gain upward progression within the pathway.
Regional Talent Centres are named as such due to the fact that players are able to travel up to 1 hour and 30 mins to the centre to play, and so the centres often attract players from across the region. Other local RTC’s in the north-west are Stoke City, Everton, Liverpool and Blackburn Rovers.
WHY AN RTC?
Training at an RTC becomes more frequent, with sessions running as a minimum, twice a week for U10-U16s. Matches are then added in to the programme on a weekly basis throughout the season.
All RTC teams within the U10 and U12 age group play in mixed fixture programmes (against predominantly male opposition) as it is believed that this additional challenge further supports female development, and helps to increase the playing standard, year on year. The U14 and U16 age groups play against other RTC squads of the same age bracket, and occasionally play mixed and male grassroots opposition.
Beyond the RTC, players who are performing at a high level within this environment may be invited to the FA development programmes, where they will be coached by different coaches and will train amongst players from other RTC squads.
From there, Players can progress to FA National Performance Camps where players are supported to reach the next level, which is the National Squads from U15 upwards. From there… the Lionesses squad awaits!
HOW DO I GET THERE?
The RTC environment is one which prepares players for more elite levels of the game through appropriate levels of coaching and competition. Individuals who reach such environments demonstrate a strong commitment and dedication to their football, as well as an eagerness to learn and improve. Their technical ability and being able to make effective decisions under pressure will also ensure they arrive with an appropriate foundation to develop their skill levels. Variety of practice, playing lots of matches and challenging oneself against stronger opposition will be of benefit to girls looking to trial for a place in one of our local RTC’s.
To find out more about the female football pathway in Manchester and playing opportunities, please email Katherine.firstname.lastname@example.org. Join in the conversation this month using #MFAFFF on social media and share your female football journeys with us!