THERE will be two adult divisions in the Suffolk Girls’ & Women’s Football League for the first time in the forthcoming season.
The addition of five new teams against the loss of one means the Women’s league will split into two divisions.
Ten teams will play in the Premiership and eight in the Championship in the 2020-21 season.
AFC Sudbury Reserves and Bury Town Reserves will be joining the league while East Bergholt United, Kesgrave Kestrels and Stowupland Falcons are all moving up from last season’s Under-18 league.
East Bergholt United are pictured above after defeating Stowupland Falcons 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 draw in the Under-18 KO Cup Final at Felixstowe & Walton United FC back in March.
University of Suffolk, who were in the league last season, have opted to play in the British Universities & Colleges Sport (BUCS) competition instead.
AFC Sudbury and Stowupland Falcons requested to join the Premiership and were duly voted in at Tuesday night’s virtual league AGM.
AFC Kesgrave and Alresford Colne Rangers requested that they play in the Championship this season, meaning a ten-eight split of the two divisions.
Former Suffolk FA Youth Council Chair Alex Shipp, who is entering his second season as chair of the league, said: “It is a good sign that there are more women’s teams joining the league.
“The really pleasing aspect is that these senior teams are investing in provision lower down their clubs from under-11s upwards.
“This means not only are they committing to the women’s game but also the girls’ game to ensure the foundations are built for a solid future in Suffolk.”
He said that as well as AFC Sudbury, Framlingham Town and Thetford Town are also new clubs joining the SGWFL for the coming season, taking the total number of teams to 80 compared to 69 last season.
This will see a total of 11 divisions as opposed to nine in the 2019-20 campaign, with the Under-12s division also splitting into two leagues.
Suffolk FA Chief Executive Richard Neal said: “The FA recently released the positive results of The Gameplan for Growth strategy and it’s fantastic to see this translating in Suffolk.
“The SGWFL moving to two adult divisions for the 2020-21 season is a significant milestone in the continued growth of female football in the county.
“Equally heartening is the number of teams competing across all age-groups increasing to 80, including two divisions at the U12 age group. This shows the league is providing an attractive environment for players and teams to play, and clubs are putting more emphasis on their female pathway.
“But these are milestones, not the desired end destination. There remains much to do to improve female representation in the game, not only in playing opportunities but in coaching, refereeing, and boardroom roles across all levels.
“The Suffolk Girls’ & Women’s Football League, Suffolk FA Female Leadership Academy, and other advocates of the female game will use these milestones as encouragement to continue momentum.”