Exclusive: Ladies Interview FA WPL Chairman, Carol West

28th February 2018

This week the FA announced some changes to the structure of women’s football. Cheltenham Town Ladies recently met FA WPL chairman, the hardworking and enthusiastic Carol West and asked her about the organisation, her role and the future of the game. This is what she had to say.

Did you ever play and who for?  What are your highlights?

I got involved with football through running the South Yorkshire Police women’s team called ‘Inter Niagara’ after our Sports & Social Club.  We competed in the East Midlands regional league.  I did play a bit, mostly as a spare GK but my main role was coach/manager.

My main highlights – or probably more appropriate to use the term lowlights were the terrible injuries I sustained!  I ruptured my ACL and damaged by MCL when racing off my line to challenge a fast approaching centre forward.  I also narrowly missed a fractured eye socket when a player kicked me as I dived for a save.  Thankfully she didn’t score!

We did have a good team so were quite successful at that level.  We got promoted a couple of times and won the League Cup.

Do you get to watch many matches?

Not as many as I’d like unfortunately.  I’m a police officer in my day job which means working quite a few weekends.  As I work during the week I also have to use free weekends to catch up with football which limits the time I have to go out and about. I do like to watch our teams in action though as it’s great to see what all the hard work is for.

I am looking forward to watching the Cup, Plate and Reserve Cup Finals at the end of the season as these are usually really exciting matches to watch.  Our Championship Play Off is at the end of May and I’m really looking forward to watching that as the past matches have been end to end and a fantastic advert for the league

How did you get involved with the admin side?

My team played in the EMWFL and back then it’s fair to say that it wasn’t run very well.  There was a dictatorial management committee that were more interested in getting clubs to attend meetings to tell them off than work for them!

Rather than just complain about it I decided to get involved and try to make change from the inside.  I started as Club Rep then over a period of years did just about every job until I became Chairman.

After a few years of that, I became Chairman of the Midland Combination after which I took the role that I currently hold as FA WPL Chairman.

What does your role involve?

A lot of time and hard work!  The role is quite diverse and not the ‘traditional’ role of years gone by – although that’s probably more to do with my personal style as I like to get ‘hands on’.

I obviously chair meetings but over and above this, my role involves supporting the other members of the management committee in order that they can all do their respective jobs well. The other key parts of the role involve working with members of The FA, The FA Women’s Board and Sue Campbell, Head of Women’s Football.

The role has different tiers in that it involves working operationally as well as strategically.  Women’s football is continually evolving so it’s my job to ensure that the League and the way we work evolves with it for the benefit of our clubs and wider game.

Do you have any assistants?

We have a management committee that comprises of elected members in addition to FA Board members and FA appointed secretary.

When was the FA WPL formed?

The FA Women’s Premier League was formed in 1992 but the league we know today is a result of a restructure in 2014.

What is its remit?

One area of remit is to offer competitive playing and development opportunities to players progressing from grassroots to elite football.  The league comprises of what I’d term as upper grassroots to sub-elite clubs so part of our remit is to ensure an appropriate platform for them to operate.

We are also integral to FA strategy in relation to participation so  having things in place to develop players and coaches is essential.

How is the FA WPL structured?

The league has six divisions across Tiers 3 and 4.  Tier 3 is our Northern and Southern ‘premier’ divisions.  Beneath that at Tier 4 are four Division Ones that are split North, Midlands, South East and South West.

We also have a vibrant Reserve Section that sits alongside which is currently split North, Midlands and South.

What is the WPL doing to support teams in their league?

Supporting our clubs is at the heart of everything we do. Being a volunteer myself and having experience as a player, coach, manager, club secretary and league administrator has given me great insight around what they need.

Through FA and league funding we offer some financial support but wider than that we support clubs through signposting and education as a lot of the time help is available but not known about.

What financial assistance is available to help with resources, training, extensive travel etc?

We receive funding from The FA which enables us to provide travel subsidy to clubs.  We also provide league funding for our cup and plate competitions.

We also operate a bursary fund which allows clubs to apply for financial support for things like coaching courses and other football related qualifications.

Assistance isn’t just about money though. This year we were able to open the photoshoots up to all divisions which was great.  Teams sent two players who were photographed for league social media campaigns.  Our Development Officer (who also fortunately happens to be a fantastic graphic designer!) created some brilliant graphics which were used for our “12 Days of Christmas” and #WeArePremier campaigns.

Both were a fantastic success with over 32 million Twitter impressions across the UK and abroad.  Just about all clubs reported an increase in followers and publicity which is fantastic to help make them stand out in their local catchment areas.  Some clubs also reported an improvement in relationships with their men’s clubs as they were impressed with the professionalism of the graphics and so wanted to get more involved so some really positive outcomes as a result.

What marketing input can the WPL assist with?

Unfortunately we aren’t in a position to officer direct support with marketing but we do signpost towards County FA’s whose remit is to support clubs that are affiliated to them.  We also have some clubs that have internal marketing support and have used these in the past to pass on their experiences and advice to those clubs that don’t have the luxury or money to pay for those types of services.

What access to better facilities can the the WPL help with?

Again, County FA’s would the first port of call to be able to access local support.

With over a hundred teams spread all over the country it would be impossible to offer financial support around facilities but we have helped clubs secure facilities and access to them through speaking with relevant parties or providing references where required.

Where does you see the Ladies game in 5 years time?

The FA has a clear ambition for the Women’s Super League to be the best league in the world so that sets the tone for everyone underneath. Women’s football is as inspirational as it is aspirational so for it to be successful on a global scale it has to be successful on a local level too.

I’m sure that the Lionesses will win a major tournament soon and this will further promote the game.  The FA are putting a lot of funding and energy in to increasing participation and attendances at matches which will increase reach and visibility.

The new restructure that will be implemented in 2018/19 will see The FA WSL become a single full-time professional league which is fantastic.  Young players now have the opportunity to look at football as a career rather than hobby or amateur level participation which is amazing.

The women’s game and support for it is growing at an incredible pace and I’m really excited to be able to play a small part it it.


Many thanks Carol and best wishes for the future.

D2 Interactive