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Women's Football News
Hamil Road Ladies are one of a select group of teams that have made an unbeaten start to 2014 as they continue to fly high in the Staffordshire County Women's League.
The Valiants currently sit fourth in the league and could climb into first position if they make the most of their fixtures in hand, but the possibility of a title challenge is somewhat remarkable considering the team were formed less than two months before the season started.
Hamil Road Ladies are the official women's representative team of Port Vale Football Club and were formed in July 2013 under the guidance of the Port Vale Community Trust. The team were developed from scratch and initially had no players, no funding and did not even have access to a strip as manager Martyn Cooke explained.
"We made a decision at the Community Trust that a professional football club like Port Vale needed a women's representative team," he said. "However, we literally started with nothing and we formed the club without even having any players registered. We ran an open day at the end of June which attracted over twenty players and it just took off from there."
The team now have twenty registered players who train twice a week, are provided with full training strips and who have helped the club to flourish in their debut season. But Cooke is keen to direct any praise towards his playing squad: "I think that all the credit should go to the players. We are fortunate enough to have brought together a group of extremely talented, passionate and hard working players at the club and it is their effort and hard work which has allowed them to shine this year.
"There is a real unity and great team spirit amongst the squad and their attitude and application has been fantastic since day one."
Current captain Victoria Atherton provides a players' perspective of the club. "The club offered us a friendly environment to play football and develop as players," she said. "The coaching staff dedicate a lot of time and energy to support and motivate us as players. They give us the courage to take risks, trust our team mates and I believe that the coaching we receive is of a really high standard which allows us to keep learning and developing."
Hamil Road Ladies are also unique in terms of their philosophy. The club places no emphasis on results and instead chooses to focus on developing players.
"We don't put any pressure on the players to get results," Cooke explains "For us it's all about spending time developing players and encouraging them to play positive football through the thirds.
"We try to create a positive environment where the focus is on enjoyment and we provide all our players with a minimum of 45 minutes of playing time in every match."
And what about talk about a title challenge? "It's already been a fantastic season for us," Martyn replies. "We'll just take it one game at a time!"
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