If you’re looking for a friendly and welcoming football club for women or girls in Leicester or Leicestershire, look no further than Epworth Forest FC.
Lily has been playing with the club for over 2 years and loves every second. She had previously tried various after-school/weekend sports, but it wasn’t until she joined Epworth Forest that she found her new passion – and that’s thanks to the fantastic coaches at Epworth Forest.
She has never been a ‘sporty’ or ‘athletic’ kid, and she struggled with the structure of things like ballet, but with football she loves the freedom of being able to run around with friends and try new things, without any pressure to be the best.
Every child, no matter how good they are at football, are all treated the same and all supported to just try their best and have fun – winning doesn’t matter, it’s having fun that does!
Within weeks of starting football, she had already become so much more coordinated and better at running around for longer periods of time, even with her asthma – and even after two years, she is still buzzing after every match or training session.
Football is more than just a game, it is a great way to build strength, agility, coordination, and all kinds of team working skills, in a place that girls can just be themselves.
It is such an inclusive sport and everyone is welcome to play – something we recognised from the first week we joined Epworth Forest.
About Epworth Forest FC
Epworth Forest FC is based in Leicester Forest East, Leicestershire. Originally named Thurlaston Football Club, it developed into part of Epworth Forest FC in 2021.
Epworth Forest started in 1989, and now there are over 150 girls of different ages and abilities playing every week, under the guidance of Gavin.
The key focus areas for the Club are: enjoying football in the true spirit of the game, sportsmanship and skill development – all provided within a welcoming and supportive environment.
The club is heavily involved with the local community and receive fantastic support from local families, schools, and businesses.
The Club is affiliated to Leicestershire & Rutland County FA, with all junior teams playing in the Leicester Junior leagues.
What’s more, all the kit is provided including match kit and training, without any extra costs. We pay just £15 a month for all the branded kit and coaching, which really is fantastic.
Dave Briars, Director of Football, says:
“The club has grown very quickly as we always incorporate new players regardless of experience. We want to continue the growth as we look to increase female participation in the female game. We have excellent coaches and a committee who have the welfare and safety of the girls at heart. We hope the girls and volunteers continue to enjoy the game for many years to come.”
His daughter, Mikayla Wildgoose is also a club coach and fantastic role model for the team, who has been selected for both England Schoolgirls and Northern Ireland under 17s, whilst being involved in the WSL (Womens Super League) for Birmingham City.
Sunday Soccer School
On Sundays, girls play a mixture of training sessions or League matches, either home or away. Home games are held at Stafford Leys Primary School, with toilets and parking available, as well as coffee often being available too from a coffee van!
Matches are either home or away, and in the Under 7s, the matches are no longer than 40 minutes, split into 4 quarters to give the girls time to rest. They’re also very relaxed and supportive, with both teams always cheering each other on and giving each other high 5s.
It doesn’t matter if the girls know the rules of football or not, the referees and coaches are always on hand to support, and things like throw-ins can be repeated if the player needs a little more guidance.
Training sessions usually involve skills and fun games to help develop their understanding of football and control over the ball.
All coaches are fully DBS-checked, who complete full FA training to be able to best support the team and make sure the girls are safe at all times.
Coaches are generally parents of the girls playing and are always super welcoming to all players, whether they’re playing for the first time or who have played for a while.
Each week, there’s also a Player of the Match, which isn’t always the girl who has scored the most goals, it is also to anyone who has played particularly well that day, or been a great team player, such as great passing, or defending.
This helps support what we love so much about the club – it really is for everyone.
Tuesday Skills Training
Tuesday training sessions currently take place on the astroturf at Leicester Forest Rugby Football Club on a Tuesday evening. This was the first year that the U7s have started Tuesday sessions, but they are fantastic fun and all the girls get so much out of it.
Even if you are part of the Sunday team, you are not expected to take part in Tuesday sessions aswell, as everyone knows we all have many commitments outside of football, but they really are great fun and it is wonderful to see the girls take their new skills onto the pitch.
Again, they are not pressured into being ‘professional’ footballers, they are there to learn while having fun too – it really is so inclusive, no matter what the skills levels the girls have, and it is lovely to see how excited Lily is for her Tuesday football sessions.
Toilets are available in the rugby club clubhouse as well as drinks from the bar.
Women’s Football Club
Dave Briars started the Women’s football training sessions in January 2022, and already there are over 25 regular ladies who join the Tuesday sessions.
They take place from 6-7pm on a Tuesday night at the Leicester Forest Rugby Football Club, so are especially great for mums who are taking their daughters to the training session, so they can train at the same time, but the sessions are still open to everyone!
Although I was really nervous to join in the first day, it was brilliant fun and a great mix of warm ups, skills training and small, friendly 5-a-side matches between the women at the end.
There are many different abilities of ladies who join in, from those who have never played before, to those who have a bit of experience.
Everyone is more than welcome to join in, and at just £2 a session, it really is a great way to get out and exercise, whether you are into football or not.
Dave is really friendly, the sessions are laid-back, and all the women leave with a big smile on their faces – I really do recommend it. There are some days after work that I could easily just curl up in bed, but after joining in these sessions, I feel so much better – so thanks, Dave!
On Saturday mornings at Forest East Park, Dave also runs goalkeeper training sessions for the girls, with U7s and U8s in one session, then the older girls in the following session.
I originally wasn’t sure if to take Lily down to this as I didn’t want her to do ‘too much’, already doing Tuesdays and Sundays, but she tried it one Saturday morning and absolutely LOVES it!
There is a small group of girls who join in and they all have so much fun, while learning their goalkeeper skills too.
Lily is a huge fan of being in goal and the sessions are a brilliant way to help her understand different ways to save the ball, as well as developing other football skills – she can’t get enough of it… and the mud!
Again, it doesn’t matter if the girls are skilled goalkeepers or it is their first time, it is a brilliant little session and so much fun – just prepare for the mud afterwards, especially in the winter 🙂
What to bring and wear
Epworth Forest FC provides sponsored kit for matches, however I always put on a base layer top and bottoms on underneath (set bought from Aldi), to give her some extra layers. Football socks are also included, we just provide the boots and shin pads.
For training sessions, we avoid using her kit, so put her in either a football kit that we bought off eBay or shorts and t-shirt. We add a fleece for colder days as well as her base layers – any kind of layering is good as they soon warm up! Again, football boots, socks and shin pads too.
For more affordable boots, socks, shin pads or kit, I tend to find Facebook Marketplace or eBay are great online, where people are selling off their kids’ outgrown kits, or Sports Direct and Aldi.
For the ladies sessions, I tend to wear leggings and a zip sweater – again, layering up. I bought some football boots off eBay and long socks from Sports Direct.
All balls, goals and training equipment are provided for sessions from the club.