Wilkes excited by Wolves Women's live FA Cup clash

Wolves Women chair Jenny Wilkes admits she has been amazed by the development in women’s football during the past few years as her team prepares for an FA Cup second round tie, live on Wolves TV.

As part of Wolves’ One Pack Week celebrations, Wolves Women’s Vitality FA Cup clash with Nottingham Forest will be broadcast on wolves.co.uk, the Wolves App and the club’s official YouTube channels this Sunday, with coverage starting at 1.45pm before kick-off at 2pm.

Having been in her role as chair of Wolves women since 1999 as the side went up and down the divisions in that time, Wilkes – a popular voice on BBC Radio WM for several decades –  is delighted to see the women’s game finally getting the recognition it deserves.

On Wolves’ FA Cup tie

“The game was rearranged, it was meant to be played in January, but it’s being played on Easter Sunday, 4th April, and for the first time ever, it’s going to live streamed on the Wolves website and Wolves YouTube, which is absolutely amazing.

“Obviously, it is behind closed doors because of Covid rules, but we’re so excited that it’s going to be live streamed, with Mikey Burrows and the legendary Wolves Women defender Claire Hakeman commentating on the game.

“We’ve got lots of Wolves Women’s fans who keep saying to me that they are really missing coming to the games, but hopefully we’re to get a load of new supporters who have never seen Wolves Women before, so see what you think, and if you like it, you might come and see us when we eventually get to play again.”

On the league season stopping for a second time

“Sunday’s a big day if only for the fact that we’re going to be playing a game of football, for a start! We haven’t played since December because of the Covid restrictions. But grassroots football is going to start again, and training started again for us on Monday.

“Unfortunately, our league has been suspended again for the second year in a row, so we missed out on promotion last year, and this year we’ve got to wait and see because they might rearrange the leagues, but in the meantime, the Women’s FA Cup continues.

“The Women’s Super League and Championship are counted as elite sport, so they’re still playing at the moment, and they’re still involved in the FA Cup, but the teams below them, some of them are also in the FA Cup, including us, so we get to play our FA Cup games.”

On being One Pack

“Over the last couple of years, particularly, the support from Wolves has been amazing and we’ve gradually been taken on board by the club, bit by bit.

“Our girl’s section starts from age eight upwards, with the under-10s team, and that was taken on by Wolves first. We had the centre of excellence, but now we have an RTC (regional talent club) which is affiliated to the FA, and then the senior section has now come under the club. Now, the whole of Wolves Women is part of the club, with lots of great support.

“My role has changed a lot since the club has got involved. When I first came in it was everything – getting the money in was the most important thing, and then organising everything, such as buying the kit, sorting out where we were going to play, liaising with other clubs to see whether we can play at their venues, sorting out where training was going to be, hiring coaches for away travel – absolutely everything.

“Gradually, Wolves have taken all of this on, most importantly, the financial side of it. The girls always used to have to pay subs to play, but until a couple of seasons ago, they were having to fins £300 each season to play, but now the club has absorbed all of that.”

On the growth of women’s football

“When I was at school, girls didn’t really play football, we were forced to play netball and rounders even if we wanted to play football.

“But things have really changed, and even Anna [Price], our club captain, she’s a lot younger than me, but even she had to play with boys teams because there weren’t girls football that early on either.

“It’s amazing how much it’s come on, even in the last few years. Girls now know football is a sport for them, which was never a thing in my day, it wasn’t considered to be a sport for girls to play.”

On the Women’s Super League deal with BBC and Sky

“A lot of that growth is about profile, because seeing it on the TV and hearing it on the radio makes a lot of difference, especially this big deal that the Super League and Championship have signed with the BBC and Sky.

“Women’s football and the Super League has been on BT for a few years now, but not everybody sees BT, but being on terrestrial TV with the BBC is going to make such a difference for girls who are going to school and seeing their heroes on the telly.

“Alex Scott has done amazing things for women’s football, raising the profile, and now to be commenting on men’s football as well. She’s had to undergo lots of people being rather rude to her and about her, but she really knows her stuff and people are starting to appreciate that.

“But that’s what it takes and it’s a long journey to make people see women’s football for what it is, but hopefully, we’re getting there.”

Jenny was talking to Tim Beech on WCRfm, click here to listen to the full show.