Notts County Women keeping their heads up post lockdown

Notts County Women are among the many football clubs who have been hit hard by the COVID 19 pandemic. The club have had their season cut short for a second time, despite being on course for promotion.

Notts currently play in the fourth tier of the women’s footballing pyramid in the East Midlands Women’s Regional Football League and have been denied the chance for promotion for a third season in a row.

Back in March, the FA Women’s Football Board released a statement detailing that all divisions below the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship would not go ahead past May.

“The Women’s Football Board, taking into account the views of clubs and leagues, decided that extending the 2020-21 league season beyond the end of May 2021 would not be a viable option due to the operational issues faced by many clubs and leagues.”

Senior Team Manager and Club Vice Chairman Adam Dunleavy spoke of his disappointment at the news after what was a very promising start to the season.

“It’s been incredibly frustrating for us, to be honest.

“The stop/start nature of the season meant we couldn’t build momentum and of course having the season null & void two years on the bounce has meant we have missed out on potential promotion for two seasons”

Senior Team Manager Adam Dunleavy frustrated at promotion woes

The FA have however presented options to clubs that would allow the upward movement of clubs who have had their promotion campaigns curtailed. With the finer details yet to be confirmed, Adam Dunleavy is confident Notts are in a good position in their application.

“As a club we believe we had the chance to go up in our first season stopped due to an unlawful points deduction that was later overturned on appeal to the FA, then last season we were PPG to win the title before the stoppage so we feel we have a really good case.”

“Our infrastructure, facilities, funding and quality of staff and support for the players is way ahead of the step we are playing at now. We also have a full junior pathway from Wildcats up to seniors so we have a sustainable model of home-grown recruitment supporting our club. We hope to be successful with this.”

Financial support to clubs in both the men’s and women’s game has been a hot topic of discussion with many clubs further down the footballing pyramid receiving no additional financial support to deal with the COVID 19 Pandemic.

“The biggest hit we have seen has not been financial but mental”
Adam Dunleavy – Notts County Women Manager 

Notts County Women have been no different as Adam Dunleavy told us the they have relied on the support of their sponsors and the dedication from volunteers, to combat lockdown guidelines.

“The Women’s game hasn’t really been given any support to continue outside of the top two divisions. Everything from step 3 (The National League) has been null and void and all those clubs were not permitted to train during the lockdown.”

“Luckily we have the backing of a fantastic sponsor in The Woodthorpe Hospital who have supported us through this time and will do so going forwards.

We are all volunteers at this level of the game, so the onus has really fallen on us to make sure we keep players connected and provide a support network for them too.”

Adam Dunleavy, who has recently been elected Club Vice Chairman, went on to say that mental health and wellbeing is at the forefront of providing support to the players throughout lockdown and beyond.

“The biggest hit we have seen has not been financial but mental, with players having their outlet and safe-space taken away, at a time when the world has been an incredibly stressful place. Sport plays a huge part in societies’ mental wellbeing and so we have a duty of care to our players to make sure we are all supporting each other and providing opportunities for the players to connect.”

Despite the club’s league campaign having ended, a local tournament organised by the clubs, kicked off this weekend which saw the return of women’s football.

Notts started their Trevor Clifton Trophy Campaign with a 5-2 win over Rise Park Ladies on Sunday. After a tough first half, Adam Dunleavy’s ladies fought back to claim all three points.

Their next fixture sees the Magpies make the trip across Notts to take on Loughborough Uni this Sunday with a two o’clock kick-off.