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Football: North Wales Girls League secretary accuses FAW of sexism after boundary meeting invite was withdrawn

THE Football Association of Wales has been accused of sexism after withdrawing an invitation to two North Wales female football leagues to discuss proposed boundary changes that could affect them.

An invitation was originally sent to secretary of the North Wales Girls League, Anne Darwin, by the secretary of FAW chairman Phil Pritchard to attend a meeting to discuss boundary changes between North Wales Coast FA and the North East Wales FA.

Other leagues invited included the Clwyd Junior League, Clwyd League and Deeside Sunday League.

But later the same day Anne received an email withdrawing her invite and, on further investigation, found that neither the girls league, which features Northop Hall FC, nor the North Wales Women’s League, which includes Northop Hall FC and Buckley FC, had been invited.

“I have spoken to a lot of people about this matter and it seems everyone was invited except the women,” said Anne.

“The FAW has not given me any explanation as to why we were initially invited and then un-invited. We have battled against many issues with the FAW in order to establish our leagues, which have been running since 2002, and we have never once cried ‘sexism’, preferring instead to argue the merits of our players and their right to be supported.

“But this can’t be anything else. The girls are not being given a say in where they play their football and this could set our development back years.”

The problem is that previously the NEWFA and NWCFA had an agreement to run female leagues between them to maximise the number of teams taking part.

But in 2007 NEWFA changed their policy and recalled the eastern Flintshire sides that played in the girls league to play under their authority alone, a move that prompted Mold Girls to move to Northop Hall and change their name to remain in the North Wales Girls League.

The move was not a success and some clubs faltered, Penyffordd even folded.

The NWCFA now has full governance over the girls and women’s leagues and Anne fears the boundary change could have a negative impact the development of young female players in the future.

“Our clubs do not want to become part of NEWFA,” she said. “Having spoken to the men’s clubs and leagues it seems in these consultation meetings they voted overwhelmingly against the proposals as they do not want to move.

“But the FAW is riding roughshod over all that and driving these changes through regardless.”

So have the female leagues been excluded due to sexism in the FAW or because they would likely add weight to the vote against boundary changes? Anne believes it is both.

“There is no doubt our leagues and clubs would vote against boundary changes,” she said. “But it seems strange that plenty of people are opposed to it but only the women and girls have been left without a voice.”

The Chronicle contacted FAW chairman Phil Pritchard to put Anne Darwin’s claims to him but his response was brief.

“I cannot comment on the proposed boundary changes as the process is still underway and no decisions have yet been made,” he said.