Billericay Town Women U21’s side have had a good season so far under manager Danny Parker and assistant manager Holly Turner who plays for the women’s first team. His side have faced sides like Arsenal, Chelsea and Bournemouth and they beat the latter 8-3 in an impressive victory. The U21’s currently sit in 7th place in the National Youth Football League Southern Premier Division with three wins, three defeats and a draw. I sat down with Billericay Town Women U21’s manager to discuss the pathway to the first team, the change in the number of girls getting involved in football and more.
Your Billericay Town Women U21 side have had a good season so far which has seen you play the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea. How would you assess the campaign so far?
‘Yes, it’s been very good. We made a good start I feel – we had a tough start to the season where we played probably three of the teams that will finish in the top four. It took us a bit of settling in because it’s not just what happens on the pitch, it is a lot of stuff off the pitch as well – getting the girls to games. At the moment, they are not all at the same schools and colleges so we have settled down now, I think we are unbeaten in our last five games. There are a couple of tough games coming up we’ve got Sudbury, who are probably the best team in the league, and then we have got Ipswich Town twice, once in the cup so hopefully we can progress. But yes, I am very happy with how we have started.’
Do you think that there is a good pathway for young players in your side to progress into the first team?
‘I definitely think that there is a good pathway because my assistant, Holly Turner, is the centre-forward for the first team so she reports back to the first team coaches – if there are any of the young girls that she thinks are progressing well enough. I think we have had about five or six of our girls train with the first team this year so it shows that it is not just that there is no pathway and all of the players from the first team will come from the outside. Billericay Town have a very good thing for looking within when they are promoting players through so yes, I think that there is a good chance for a few of our girls the way they are playing. Hopefully, a few more of them will get the chance to train with the first team as well.’
In the summer, the Lionesses beat Germany to win the Women’s Euros which has been a catalyst for more young girls to get involved in football. Have you seen a change in more girls getting involved in football since that infamous win?
‘Yes, definitely. There is a lot more girls teams, there is a lot of, which I think is helping the girls to progress, is that a lot of the girls teams are playing in boys leagues. This makes them quicker and boys are a lot more ruthless in front of goal than girls are but hopefully, the girls will catch up soon with that kind of stuff. At the moment, it seems to be that with the girls teams that I have coached, perhaps it’s just my bad coaching, they need ten chances to score one goal whereas the boys are getting three or four chances and scoring. So not only has there been an explosion in the amount of girls taking part but there has also been a higher level, I believe of skill and competing against the boys physically as well which can only bode well for the future.’
The women’s first team currently sit in fifth place in the third tier of women’s football. How important do you think the success of the first team is for players joining the U21’s?
‘Yes, I think it helps massively. Not only just the success of the first team, but Billericay Town have a very good social media side which Jack, you are a big part of! The girls, if they can’t get down to the games, they can watch the games, they can follow the games on Twitter so it does keep them involved but with the amount of girls teams Billericay Town have got, it is all looking very good for the future. The guys in charge, Greg Lake and others, they are more than happy to invest into the younger girls to hopefully pull them through so that the first team would be inundated with some very good candidates to play.’
What are your long-term ambitions in coaching?
‘Probably to the manage the England side! The thing is, I am probably a bit older now so my coaching career has probably passed me by. I have spent too many years working in the city for coaching to be a career but that doesn’t mean I don’t take it seriously and put a lot of time into it. At the moment, I am more than happy for the coaching that I do, whether it’s boys or girls, and then hopefully carrying on with the academy and us flourishing and growing from strength to strength in the coming years.’
A massive thank you to Danny Parker for making the time for this interview.