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WATCH Tameside United Girls coach hits out at Great Academy Ashton
Wednesday 14th February 2018 @ 16:10 by Mark Phillip
Football Sports

Tameside United Girls coach James Caldwell has hit out at the facilities at Great Academy Ashton.

He says issues with the floodlights and quality of the pitch have left him with no choice but to find a temporary venue for his players to train at.

James fears the lack of endeavour between Active Tameside and Great Academy Ashton to find a resolution will ultimately stunt the growth of girls’ football in Tameside.

In fact, such has been the knock-on effect of moving out of the borough, only nine of the usual 30 players attended youth training on Tuesday night.

Speaking to Reporter Sport about the issue, James, who was previously involved at Denton Girls FC, said: “A lot of our youth teams train at Great Academy Ashton, and unfortunately for the last year or so the facility hasn’t been maintained.

“It’s got to the point where, in our opinion, as a club, it’s not safe to keep training there.

“There are issues with the floodlights and issues with the quality of the pitch.

“We’ve queried it for a long time with Active Tameside and Great Academy Ashton, but at the moment we’re not getting anywhere in terms of improving the facility, so we’ve had to make the hard decision as a club to actually move outside of Tameside for the next couple of weeks until we can source a suitable venue in the borough.”

Ideally, every age group associated with the club would train on the artificial pitch at Ewen Fields. However, the popularity of the facility has rendered this impossible.

James believes that, unless a solution to the problem is found, the identity of the club will be jeopardised. He added: “We’re lucky that our open age ladies team can train here and so can our academy players, but there just isn’t enough pitch time to get every team on here.

“They’re good kids who just want to play football at the end of the day, and they’ve come together really well as a unit, but it’s a Tameside United team and so we should be training in Tameside – that’s where we want to be playing.

“It’s really disappointing that the facilities haven’t been maintained around here to a standard where girls’ football can be thriving in the area.”

In response to James’ complaints, Chief Executive of Great Academies Education Trust, Allison Crompton CBE said: “We understand and share Mr Caldwell’s frustrations with regard to the use our footballing facilities , however, the issue has arisen as a direct result of the academy’s issues with Carillion who provide the services to the school on behalf of Tameside council.

“We’re disputing the excessive costs that Carillion on behalf of the council wanted to charge to remedy the replacement of bulbs in the floodlighting. With Carillion’s demise we are now working with the council and have a meeting on Thursday 15th February to reach an amicable solution which provides value for public money. We hope that Mr Caldwell and Tameside United Ladies FC can bear with us as we seek a speedy solution to repair to the facilities.”

Despite the on-going issues with training facilities, James says the club is enjoying its first full season under the banner of Tameside United Girls FC, with teams from the Under 9s right through to the Ladies Team blossoming under their new found identity.

While the priority is to promote an all-inclusive ethos at the club, Cadwell is hoping one of the sides can claim silverware come the end of the season. He said: “Tameside United Ladies are having their first full season at open age. They’re having a really successful season and they’re in the top half at the moment, but we’re still looking to see if we can embark on a promotion campaign to move us up to division one. There’s been really good growth in the squad and it’s a great team.

“The youth teams play at Ewen Fields on Saturday morning. We get a really good turnout and a lot of the Hyde United supporters come down early in the morning, especially when they’ve had away games, so that’s been great to see.

“The Ladies play here on Saturday as well, and we have a game against Swinton FC this weekend which is gearing up to be a really good game, and we’ll get a around 50-100 people watching which is really good.”

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