Young attendees at the Wildcats football session in Beckton were given a surprise they will never forget when West Ham United women’s head coach Matt Beard stopped in to lead their session.
The FA Women’s Super League boss dropped by the West Ham United Foundation on Wednesday to offer his expertise and experience to the gathered group of young girls.
Beard’s involvement in this week’s session comes as a part of West Ham Women’s Week and as the club announced the launch of the women’s Player Development Pathway; a new, structured route for aspiring young females to go from grassroots football into the West Ham United women’s academy.
It’s great to come down and see some of the girls that come to our game, and it’s nice for me to come and give a little bit back.
“It’s great to come down,” Beard said. “It’s great to come down and see some of the girls that come to our game, and it’s nice for me to come and give a little bit back.
“I was really impressed, to be honest with you. There were some really good players. Women’s football is going from strength to strength and, as I say, there are some really technically gifted players here.”
Austin Hughes, the Community Sports Manager at the West Ham United Foundation, was delighted to welcome Beard to Wednesday’s training event and believes his attendance could help to inspire young women to further pursue their journey in football.
Beard has guided West Ham women’s team to the SSE Women’s FA Cup Final this season, set to be played on Saturday 4 May against Manchester City, and has previously won the WSL with Liverpool, and Hughes reckons the head coach’s willingness to get involved will have a lasting impact.
He said: “Having that link, this contact, with the women’s team and Matt, it’s absolutely amazing.
“When you get someone like Matt himself to come down and take a coaching session, that opens the eyes up of the youngsters. Girls and females and others go ‘hey, look, I’m going to come and have a go and this. There’s Matt Beard taking the session!’’
“Sometimes sport and football gets too much about that whole elite edge, whereas these girls are going ‘look, we’re here to have a go’. Matt’s here taking the session and that means a lot.”