The manager of a girls’ football club in Dartmouth has appealed for sponsors to help their two teams reach new heights.

Dartmouth AFC Swifts was formed in March, and although there has been a positive response from local businesses, manager Mike Jackson is on a mission to help attract new sponsors.

Speaking to this newspaper, he said: “We rely on money coming in to support the club. Obviously we need to find more equipment as the team is getting bigger.”

The recent success in women’s football, particularly with the England side, which saw them win the Euros in 2022 and end up as runners-up in this year’s World Cup, appears to have had a positive effect on girls.

Dartmouth AFC Swifts have seen their ranks swell, to the point that there are now 44 girls in the club, aged between nine and 15, split into two teams – the Under 11s (U11) and Under 14s (U14).

The aim is to enter both teams into their respective leagues next season. Entry is free, but although the U14 team are fully kitted out, the U11s are struggling to have the same level of equipment as the senior side and are currently without a strip.

Mr Jackson said he was loath to introduce a charge to help pay for it, as families were already struggling financially. Training in winter is also more expensive, as the girls have to play indoors at a leisure centre, which costs about £50 a week.

“We’re recruiting new players, so we’re growing and will probably be recruiting another coach, too. Going forward it would be nice (to have sponsorship) instead of having to go round knocking on doors, because most of the sponsorship we’ve received has been as a result of us physically visiting individual businesses,” he said.

Playing in a league will also have a positive impact on the players’ development, he added.

The team recently watched England Women at Wembley
The team recently watched England Women at Wembley (Dartmouth AFC Swifts)

“Bearing in mind that these girls have never played before, the idea was to get football under their skin for one season, playing with pride, for their badge and for each other,” he said.

The girls recently went on a special trip to Wembley to watch their heroes England beat the Netherlands 3-2 in a crucial Women’s Nations League group match.

It proved to be a thrilling contest, as the Lionesses clawed their way back from being two goals down at the break to win, thanks to a sensational last gasp goal during stoppage time.

And after watching the Lionesses perform in such an inspiring way, few would bet against at least one of the AFC Swifts appearing in the senior side one day, eager to emulate their heroes.