Michael Ross, Chair of the Morden Girls League, describes how the Dons Trust has contributed to this community-based initiative.
The Morden Girls League provides free football for girls aged from 13 to 16 throughout south-west London, and it is hugely grateful to the Dons Trust for their financial support over the years. It is just the sort of grassroots community initiative that the DT is there to help.
The League celebrates its 21st birthday this season. It is run entirely by volunteer mums and dads who give up their Saturday mornings to help 60 girls play competitive football. There are league and cup games played throughout the winter and spring, with training sessions continuing throughout the summer.
Secretary and longstanding Dons fan Marie-Louise de Villiers explains: “The cost of youth football can be prohibitive, particularly for low-income families. We provide the kit, and all the girls have to bring along are boots and shinpads. We even have a free boot pool for those who need it.
“But our costs are constantly rising, and in a year’s time, when Merton Council’s contractors start charging us pitch fees, we will need every penny we can get. That’s where the Dons Trust comes in. The grant the Trust gives us pays for the essentials – training kit, balls, medical packs – and helps us afford those shirts, socks and shorts of which the girls are so proud.
“We love it when parents are able to make a contribution, but many cannot. Grassroots sport should not be about money. It is about participation. We take girls at all skills levels – or none – and our coaches enjoy developing the players to be the best they can be.”
The traffic is not all one-way. Some of the best MGL players graduate to AFC Wimbledon Ladies & Girls teams, and some have represented the Dons at first-team level. And for some of the girls, a trip to Kingsmeadow is their first chance to see a live league match and savour the atmosphere and excitement of the professional game.
Marie pays tribute to former Treasurer and current Ladies & Girls Section vice-president, Ron Trayhorn, for helping set up the link with the Dons Trust. “Ron was a great help in making the connection, and when he and his wife Jean helped run the Ladies section, MGL benefited lots from their support.” MGL is a friendly organisation, and with the help of the Dons Trust we will certainly remain one.
MGL matches are played at King George’s Field in Tudor Drive, Morden, SM4 4PN. Girls interested in joining can turn up any Saturday between 10.30 am and 12 noon, or can contact the League at firstname.lastname@example.org. The League is also on Facebook. Adult volunteers are always welcome to help with coaching and refereeing/assistant refereeing (subject to usual DBS checks), and with fundraising and other forms of helping out.