The wait is over for more than 1,500 teams now the Essex County FA has released the draws for the opening rounds of the region’s 19 County Cup competitions, including a debut for the brand new Essex Women’s Trophy in 2011/12.
The number of cups has been increased this year as the Trophy runs for the first time alongside the existing Women’s Cup, which has operated since 1994. The Trophy is open to reserve teams (except those clubs playing in the FA Women’s Premier League), clubs in Divisions One and Two of the Essex County Women’s League, and Under 18s sides.
With the exception of the Senior Cup supported by BBC Essex, all of the County’s knockout cups have been drawn up to the quarter-final stage, with the pairings for the last eight onwards being made available as exclusive audio clips on www.essexfa.com later this season.
Essex County FA Women’s & Girls’ Development Officer, Sharon Brownlie, explained the process for setting-up the new female competition: “We began our mapping process back in 2009 where we looked at the number of entries over the past couple of years and noticed that there was a big percentage of teams that didn’t register to play in our Women’s Cup.”
“Part of the problem was that we only allowed first teams to enter the Cup, which meant that already we were discounting a number of sides. Secondly, there were a number of teams placed lower down in the women’s pyramid that didn’t see the value in entering the Cup as historically the lower-placed teams have failed to make it past the First Round.”
“We put together a letter detailing our idea of a ‘Junior Cup’ and sent it to clubs that had teams based in the second tier of the Essex County Women’s League [ECWL], clubs that had reserve teams in the ECWL as well as Under 18s teams who were currently playing within the Essex County Girls’ League [ECGL]. We received enough positive feedback to believe that a second cup would be welcomed so we pressed ahead with getting the idea passed.”
Most revolutionary was the concept of adding girls’ sides into the mix, with seven such teams entering this season’s competition. Sharon revealed that extensive talks took place between the County FA and the ECGL before details were finalised: “The idea of inviting Under 18s to take part came about after a conversation with the age group coordinator of the ECGL as teams had complained about there being County Cups for Under 14s and 16s, but not for 18s.”
Four ties constitute the First Round of the 20-team competition, set for Sunday 16th October, with the Second Round due to take place five weeks later. Sharon added: “The Trophy now provides young players with a taste of adult female football. We hope that, by doing this, those females will get a positive experience and will want to carry on into their adult years.”
“I’m massively pleased as a lot of work has gone into getting this off the ground, with the support of Dave Threadgold and the Cups & Competitions Department. We were told we’d need at least eight teams to make the competition viable so we have, in fact, exceeded our earlier expectations and the number of Under 18s entering has been especially pleasing.”
Elsewhere, there are a number of intriguing ties for some of the current competition holders, with Saturday Premier Cup winners Frenford Senior pitched away to Dedham Old Boys in the First Round of this season’s version, whilst Sunday Premier Cup champions Ockendon Motor Spares host Pools Athletic in the 2011/12 competition.
In order to bring them into line with the other County Cups, the Saturday and Sunday Junior Cups and Trophies have switched to a countywide format, with Saturday Junior Cup winners Kelvedon Hatch Reserves matched-up against M & B Club Reserves in an all-Essex Olympian League clash, whilst in the Sunday Junior Trophy 2010/11 winners Parkside Rangers Reserves host local rivals Ekco Whitecaps.
Over 700 teams have chosen to enter the nine male and female youth competitions, which range from Under 11s to 18s for boys and Under 14s to 16s for girls. Nearly 100 veterans teams will compete for the silverware in the Saturday and Sunday Veterans Cups.