Burnley FC Women continue to develop under operation of Burnley FC in the Community and one team that has been on a significant journey this season is the under 16s.

Securing only one-point during the 2017/18 season, now managed by BFCitC Sport Development Coach Becky Clough, the main aim was to improve on last year. She aimed to do this by increasing the quality and standard of training, implementing rules and regulations that had not previously been put in place.

The changes have had a positive impact with the team currently sitting second in the North Valley and Burnley Unity Youth Football League. This has not been an easy journey as they have come up against some tough sides but have shown real quality, determination and grit.

Alongside the enhancements to training sessions, changes to the matchday’s themselves were important too, with Becky believing that the conditions should try to closely emulate the Burnley FC Women first team’s game day.

The squad now play their home fixtures at Nelson and Colne College, which has made a significant difference to the mindset of the players and has resulted in an improved performance on the pitch. Visiting teams have also complimented the facility, commenting on the professional and engaging set up.

The improvement in the overall environment has resulted in the squad attracting two Regional Talent Club (RTC) players from Blackburn Rovers LFC.

Goalkeeper Dee left the RTC and is now playing for the team.

Dee’s mum Donna said: “After leaving the RTC we looked carefully for a team that could develop Dee. As she is a goalkeeper a lot of clubs don’t have specific goalkeeper training.

“Since coming to Burnley, she receives a similar quality of coaching to the RTC and Becky is fantastic. Dee loves football, she is incredibly football orientated and she wants to play at the best level she can.

“She’s loving it, she has settled into the team very quickly. She didn’t know anybody at first and as a goalkeeper her position can make her quite isolated, but the girls are really nice, and she feels one of the team. She has also been training with Lauren, the first team goalkeeper, which she really enjoys. The squad aspire to play like the first team so it’s a great opportunity.”

Sarah’s daughter Trinity plays for the team, she said: “There was low morale last season due to a lot of inconsistency, in four years the team had five managers.

“The girls loved playing football but there was a lack of knowing what was going on, so players started to leave. To make sure the team didn’t disperse, I was the interim manager for two years.

“Trinity, Phoebe and Abbie have been in the team since it started, they didn’t want it to fold so everybody responded well when BFCitC took over.

“The change has been massive, it is similar to being at the bottom of Mount Everest and now being at the top. There are smiles on their faces even when they lose, they are eager to get back on the pitch.

“They are like a little family, there for each other. They respect Becky and the coaches and are enthusiastic and smiling when they turn up at training. They want to learn and understand what Becky has said, she just clicks with the girls, things have really turned around.”

Player, Niamh Horsefield said: “I feel like we perform really well together and we all bond and stick together.

“The standard of coaching now is a lot better and I personally get more out of the sessions. I feel like people care about us more and I want to become a better standard than I am now.

“The coaches are fantastic, they always make time for you, any questions you can go and ask them, and you’re not really scared to ask as they are approachable.

“The training is intense and that’s what I like. The instructions I get I understand and overall, I just have a good session.

“I want the club to keep performing and progressing like it is doing.

Player, Rebecca Campbell said: “I think we have improved as a team, we’re more confident. I think there are more opportunities at the club now, we’ve got different coaches in helping each other out. It just makes our team better.

“Instead of just doing things in training we seem to be taking it into our matches and it seems to be winning us games or drawing them. We are improving, we actually play as a team instead of just one person.

“Becky’s really approachable, she actually cares, say we’re struggling with something in training, she’ll put it into the next training session and she asks us what we’re struggling with. She tells us if we’re not trying hard enough and she tries to boost us all in our game.”

Burnley FC Women under 16s Manager, Becky Clough said: “The levels of effort and respect that I have received from the girls is brilliant. I have high expectations for the team, by setting up a professional environment and working together I hope to really develop the players.

The girls are massive Burnley fans and have a strong desire to play for the first team. They go and watch the first team and look up to them. Therefore, I wanted to make improvements to the coaching and playing environment and raise the standards, so the girls can play with the passion and determination to win games.

“The mentality has changed, through the facilities, coaching, matchday environment, they now believe they can do well and are proving they can!”

Burnley FC Women First Team Manager, Matt Bee said: “The development and progression of the under 16s team this season has been very pleasing and is down to the hard work of everyone involved.

“Becky has done a fantastic job to create a really positive environment around the team and all the girls have bought into this. I am monitoring their development closely because these are the women’s first team players of the future, so it is crucial that the training they receive replicates the first team.

“The under 16s have really bought into the Burnley Women DNA and have progressed in line with it. All the players deserve massive credit and will hopefully continue their footballing development over the course of the season.”