FF 75 – Oxford United Women Football Club

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Oxford United Women Football Club

LANCING, ENGLAND – FEBRUARY 26: Oxford’s Eve Gane celebrates with team mates after scoring the equaliser during the Womens Super League 2 match between Brighton & Hove Albion WFC and Oxford United Women at Culver Road on February 26, 2017 in Lancing, England. (Photo by Charlie Crowhurst – The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

Oxford United Women FC is a club that has been making tremendous progress in recent times. Football Focus Magazine recently caught up with their General Manager Ruth Senior and First Team Manager Andy Cook to gain an insight into their success.  

FF: How long have you been involved and what first attracted you to the club? 

RS: I have been working for the club since 2015 when I started as a community coach and progressed my way up the club, taking over the Women’s team in November last year. What attracted me to the club was the opportunities they offered in terms of your career progression and what made me stay was that never once have I felt I have been treated differently by the people above me because I am a woman. 50% of heads of department are female here so at Oxford United FC, if you work hard and do well you get rewarded regardless of who you are. 

AC: I was Ruth’s first recruit! And started in February of this year. The chance and opportunity to work for a women’s super league club was what attracted me to Oxford United FC.  I’d also worked with some of OUWFC’s players before so it was a good fit. 

FF: What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your role? 

RS: The most challenging aspect of my role is the sheer volume of people I oversee so I look over everyone from U10s through to the WSL first team which includes parents, players, fans, facility providers, educational partners, sponsors and community partners so something is always happening.  

There are many rewarding parts to this job; I personally enjoy watching my staff do well and providing environments where they can succeed. The main one at the moment is seeing our first team players enjoying their football and our fans loving to watch them. 

AC: I would say picking the right team, you always worry that you haven’t got it right and if you lose and you feel that’s contributed, that’s sometimes hard to take. Most rewarding for me is to see the players progress and observe the effects training has on games. 

FF: How’s the general mood down at the club at the moment? 

RS: I think it’s one of excitement, there’s a real buzz around the place. I think everyone is surprised at how far we progressed over the summer from the Spring Series and starting to believe in what we are trying to do. 

FF: How would you say the start to the season has gone for the club? 

RS: Dream start I would say. We outlined what points we wanted to get where and so far we’re on track. 

FF: What are your plans for the rest of the campaign? 

AC: We’re just going to keep working hard and try not to lose many football matches! 

FF: Would you consider yours to be a community club? 

RS: Increasing our links within the community has been one of my priorities for this season. We’ve got a range of different partnerships being established in Oxfordshire and are working closely with clubs, schools and other partners to get involved with our match day. For me personally, it’s a thing close to my heart as, as a club we have some strong female role models who provide great examples to young girls that women can be athletic, strong and competitive. I think that’s really important. 

FF: What do you believe could be some of the biggest challenges the club may face in the next 5 years? 

RS: The league restructure will certainly have an effect on our strategy. For all WSL clubs, we now have the challenge of how to set ourselves apart from men’s teams and other sporting events now our seasons are aligned in the winter. For me, it’s all about creating a unique product for fans that celebrates women’s sport and stops trying to be like men’s football. 

FF: What are the clubs ambitions for the next 5 years? 

RS: We are currently working with a range of partners to put the infrastructure in so that we push for promotion by 2022 and establish ourselves in the top tier of women’s football. It’s no easy aim as we have to make sure everything from our education pathway to our girls academy is progressing to the standard of a WSL 1 team. 

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