Jill McDonald is the club’s Sunday Panthers Academy Coach.
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Footnote to the girls. Having been involved in the Women's game since 1990, it was always my ambition to have a Girls Academy run by girls. In the early days, Aine O'Gorman as a teenager worked with me coaching both boys, girls, and men. Then Aoibh started off and has gone on to another level. Young girls Orlaith and Cassie are on same pathway and watching them on Saturday Morning coaching, and their interaction with the young girls has me thinking my ambition can be realised. There are always those behind the scenes who keep everything ticking over and provide much needed support, not only to the girls but to our coaches. We have been blessed over the years in that regard. Amanda and Lisa, or Lisa and Amanda, they have been joined at the hip over the years and their combined efforts especially during Covid helped keep us all safe and in good spirits. The girls on and off the pitch will ensure the girls game in Shankill has a bright future.
Now that we are drawing towards the end of the year, it's time to reflect on how the past year has gone and what progress we have made. Despite 2020 being such a tough one you might be excused for thinking very little progress had been made. Strange as it may seem, this was a year I've seen one of my most ambitious goals achieved. It has long been a dream of mine to see an academy for females run by females. These past few weeks I have worked alongside 5 females who are responsible for the smooth running of academy. Lisa and Amanda oversee the safety of the children on arrival and departure, The Covid Ladies. Aoibh, Cassie and Orlaith ensure the children enjoy themselves while learning their skills. We are small and take it nice and softly, nothing rushed. Out of small acorns, big trees grow as I was gently reminded while watching several players from both sides play in the Womens FAI Cup on Saturday. Our young girls will be taught the same way, with the advantage of having female coaches and mentors. A special thanks to all who have helped with the safe and smooth running of academy. A special mention must go to Barry Hall who has for years now worked hard both on and off the pitch for the benefit of ladies football, not just in Shankill but in the wider community.
2001 players have a lot in common with our present-day youngsters. Both sets of players like encouragement, and fun. They all want to learn and improve and by nature are competitive. Now we know how the player thinks we should be able to adopt our training programme to suit.
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