Aberystwyth Town FC celebrate explosion of women’s and girls’ football ahead of National Lottery Football Weekends

Aberystwyth Town FC’s Head of Coaching Gavin Allen has revealed that opportunities for women and girls at the club have “exploded.”


It is an example, he says, of how the community has benefited from the club’s vital National Lottery funding, which arrived during the pandemic when fans weren’t allowed to attend games.

Now – in a thank you to National Lottery players – over 100,000 free tickets are available on a ‘Buy One Get One Free’ basis to National Lottery players for selected local matches across three weekends in March and April. The offer will be available for Aberystwyth Town’s clash against Barry Town United on Friday 25th March.

Allen said:

“The funding from The National Lottery was a lifeline. Without it, we may not have been in a position to grow women’s and girls’ football like we have.”

Former England International and The National Lottery Football Weekend Ambassador Karen Carney. 
(Photo by Luke Walker/Getty Images for National Lottery)

The change of fortunes came about after Aber’s women finished bottom of the league last season:

“That was a real turning point. We knew we had to do something. I resigned my post as men’s first team manager and took over the coaching of the women. We’ve since developed a whole community programme for women and girls. On a Tuesday evening, we have anywhere between 30 and 60 girls between the ages of four and seven playing in our Huddle sessions. And our Girls’ Development Centre will see up to 70 players here every week with girls coming from Cardigan, Lampeter and Caersws.”

And this season, the women’s first team were free of relegation worries, finishing fourth in the Genero Adran League.

Allen added:

“We’re really pleased to be involved with The National Lottery Football Weekends – it’s a great way to say a big thank you to National Lottery players. And we’d love to see lots of new faces down at Park Avenue on Friday night (25th March) – it’s a great opportunity to get behind your local team and support everything we do here.

“What many people don’t realise is that when you come and watch the first teams play on a weekend, they are supporting a massive community programme – whether that’s juniors playing football or our over 40s keeping active and looking after their health and wellbeing. And, like most clubs in Wales, it’s mainly run by volunteers.”

In Wales, The National Lottery Football Weekends campaign will mean people can watch games in the JD Cymru Premier and JD Cymru North and South leagues for free. It aims to get people out to watch and really get behind their local team, perhaps for the first time, and experience the vital role these clubs play as part of their local community.

At the height of the pandemic and when football and sport shut down, clubs struggled for survival as they lost turnstile income and other matchday revenue. In response, The National Lottery provided over £12.5 million of emergency funding to community football clubs at this level across the UK, including Aberystwyth Town FC to help them continue to operate and survive.

And as Allen points out, the clubs are at the heart of their communities:

“We also go into schools to run sessions in curriculum time, helping the local authority to deliver a safe environment for children to play football. We are a true community club for Ceredigion and the only JD Cymru Premier League club in the county, working with junior football leagues and all grassroots clubs in the area.”

The National Lottery Football Weekends is to thank National Lottery players for stepping up when they were needed the most. The special ‘Buy One Get One Free’ ticket offer will be available to National Lottery players for a game at one of the 231 participating clubs in Wales, England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.* The ticket offer will apply to one home match for each club, taking place between 19th March and 16th April.

The campaign will be delivered in partnership with the FAW (Football Association of Wales), National League, The FA (Football Association), The SFA (Scottish Football Association) IFA (Irish Football Association) and is also backed by well-known ex-footballers Ally McCoist and Karen Carney.

To find out more about The National Lottery Football Weekends and to find your nearest match visit www.thenationallotteryfootballweekends.co.uk.

Each club will be responsible for distributing tickets for its home match and details on how to claim will be available from each club. Terms and conditions apply.

The money for this campaign, as well as the initiatives with the various FAs and leagues across the UK during Covid came from a National Lottery promotional fund, it was not funded by money allocated for National Lottery Good Causes or by Camelot.

The National Lottery is also working alongside Non-League Day, a campaign set up in 2010 to encourage supporters of clubs playing at the highest levels of the game to support their smaller local or non-league club and sample the unique matchday experience of football at local level.

The National Lottery has always played a vital role in supporting elite, community and grassroot sport in the UK. Including football, The National Lottery has invested more than £5.7 billion into grassroots sport since it was established in 1994. In the last year nearly £395 million was given to grassroots and elite sport good causes, funding everything from facilities to playing fields and creating opportunities for everyone to get active and improve their lives through sport.

There are other opportunities for National Lottery players in March. The National Lottery Open Week takes place between 19th – 27th March to say thank you for the more than £30 million raised every week by National Lottery players. Open Week unlocks free entry and exclusive discounts for National Lottery players at a range of participating venues including galleries, museums, gardens, historic castles and sports stadiums. Full Ts&Cs apply and are available at www.nationallotteryopenweek.com

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