They’re set to make their debut in a prestigious new super league next month – but Derry City Ladies have yet to secure a home ground on which to play their matches.
In less than six weeks the newly-formed Northern Ireland Football League Women’s Premiership will kick off, but confusion reigns as to where exactly the Derry ladies will host elite clubs like Linfield and Cliftonville.
Last year, they played their home games at the YMCA’s pitch in Drumahoe and secured promotion to the top ranks after winning the regional championship.
But with the new league boasting the cream of Northern Ireland women’s football, and with highlights set to be aired weekly on UTV, the Derry City Ladies’ management team is anxious to have a ground which measures up to the professional facilities of their competitors.
They’ve made enquiries about the possibility of playing at the Brandywell, the Showgrounds or the Swilly pitch at the Templemore Sports Complex, but have yet to get the nod from Derry City and Strabane District Council on any of them.
Paul Roddy, one the team’s backroom staff, revealed they were having “difficulty” in getting the issue resolved.
He added: “We sent an email to a member of the sports and leisure team and I believe that has been passed on, but as to what the relevant department is and who makes the ultimate decision is something we’re still not clear about.”
Meanwhile, the team’s manager Rory Kehoe has been taking the squad through a rigorous pre-season training programme and is hoping that news of a home ground will come soon.
He said: “Paul is trying to get that situation sorted and it has really allowed me, the strength and conditioning coach and the performance analyst the chance to focus on preparing the squad.
“We’ve been training hard in the Fitness Factory in Rosemount and on Brooke Park’s 3G pitch, but it would be nice to get some work done on grass.
“Our pre-season matches have been restricted to away games, when ideally we wanted to host a few at a ground we can call home to give the players a feel for the pitch.
“No one’s in any doubt that competing in this league is going to be a monumental task, but we’re a whole new coaching collective and the vibe is really positive.
“It would just be a bit embarrassing to have the likes of Linfield or Cliftonville coming down to play us and we’re jumping from pitch to pitch.”
Officers from Derry City and Strabane District Council’s sports and leisure department are expected to liaise directly with the club in a matter to get the matter sorted out.
A council spokeswoman said: “Council is committed to working with all sports clubs to provide accessible leisure facilities for all.
“It will endeavour to provide all clubs with appropriate facilities, based on the current availability and demand.”
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