Everton are on the journey to becoming a full-time professional women’s football club after recently being awarded Women’s Super League 1 status. This week the Blue Girls made their first two full-time signings, Gabby George and Georgia Brougham.
Head Coach Andy Spence is excited about the progress the club is making with a series of friendlies lined up ahead of the September start of the WSL1 that the team will be playing in. The FA founded the WSL to develop the women’s game in 2011.
“For the first time as manager of Everton Ladies Football Club, I know 100 per cent exactly where we are going. It’s not ‘we might do’ – we are doing it, and we will do it with style, quality and passion.
“I have seen plenty of WSL 1 football, of course, but nothing frightens me. I am looking forward to watching our players test themselves against the best in the country.
“Our pre-season programme will include games against WSL 1 sides and I am not afraid to show our hand against clubs we will face in the league. We will be a really good side, with big hearts, who play great football with a real competitive spirit.
“There are great times going on at the Club at the moment. We are having a little bit of a break, which is important, but there is plenty of work going on behind the scenes to make sure we are as competitive as we can be.”
Defender George becomes the first full-time women’s professional in Everton’s history. She has been with the club for three years, featuring in 43 games scoring 1 goal. Her fellow defender Brougham signed a couple of days later on a two-year deal. The 21-year-old is a product of the Manchester City Academy.
George as well as Megan Finnigan and Claudia Walker were recently called up for England duty and Spence can already see the benefits of the full-time program.
“We have had the England girls in after the season finished and what was exciting was that we had them training on a full-time programme model.
“Certainly, Gabby and Claudia have been pretty much doing that all season anyway and another four or five have been close to that. But those girls lived as full-time players for a couple of weeks and you could tell because they were quite tired by the end of it!
“We had them in a 9am because they had a lot of work to get through in terms of rehab, pre-activation, gym work and training sessions. It allowed them to live the life and they have loved it – I know that because they wouldn’t let me give them a day off! Even that was a good learning experience for them because you can’t train seven days a week, even if at that young age we think we can.
“But those girls had a really good taste of what full-time football will be like and it really brought them on as well.”
Everton’s commitment towards building up the youth and ladies’ teams shows the breadth of majority owner Farhad Moshiri’s vision for where he sees Everton in a few years, a footballing juggernaut in the Northwest.