Introducing… SEFA Women Football Club

Soccer Elite FA are delighted to announce a merger with leading women’s football club XL@Football, with the two organisations coming together to form SEFA Women Football Club.

XL, whose first team have just been promoted to step six of the women’s footballing pyramid, are one of Kent and Medway’s most reputable clubs, renowned for providing a clear pathway from their youth setup into first team senior football. The merger will see the SEFA Women senior team play in the London & South East Regional Football League Division 1 South, with under 18, under 16, under 14 and under 12 sides competing in the Junior Premier League. Meanwhile, a girls-specific SEFA Women Post-16 Education & Football Programme in partnership with Northfleet School For Girls will be launched in September 2024, with a SEFA Women College Programme at Star Meadow to follow, launching in September 2025.

In addition, a clear and established pathway with be created between the SEFA Women squads and the existing SEFA Girls Academy, which is open to girls in school years 2-11 and takes place on Monday evenings at Star Meadow.

As part of the merger, all SEFA Women adult and youth teams will now train at Star Meadow Sports Complex, with first team fixtures also taking place at the home of SEFA. Youth team fixtures will take place at Maplesden Noakes, Maidstone. The existing XL under 10 and 11 sides (24-25 season) will move under the banner of Hollands & Blair, and will then have the opportunity to trial for the SEFA Women JPL squad at under 12.

Stuart Grist, CEO of XL@Football, said of the merger: “I am delighted that XL@Football is merging with Soccer Elite to become SEFA Women. It is not often that you meet a team of people who are so aligned with our own vision for the development of female football in Kent, but from the very first meeting I could see that the team at SEFA understood and were excited about where we wanted to take the club. The merger means that all of our female teams will have access to the very best football facilities, equipment, pitches, classrooms and coaches. The club will finally have its very own home as we look to continue being the leading centre for female football in the area.

“I am also pleased to announce that Kent Reliance (OneSaving Bank) have agreed to continue their partnership of the club and will continue to donate the shirt sponsorship to Demelza. This three way partnership has been important for the players and club, ensuring that we give back to our local community and have a sponsor who is unbelievably supportive of the work we do with young women and girls in Kent.

“Having spent a substantial amount of time with the team at SEFA, I am very excited about where we will be taking the club. We continue to have ambitions to climb the female football pyramid as quickly as we can whilst ensuring that we stay true to our football pathway of promoting girls into our first team. We are proud that our league and cup winning senior team featured ten players who had come up through our academy and we look forward to developing more female talent from across Kent.

“SEFA Women will continue to be operated by the same leadership team who ran XL@Football but with the added support of a full time team from SEFA. We remain a dedicated female football club with our roots firmly in the Medway and Kent area. We look forward to the exciting times ahead as we look to push on with our plans to develop and move the club forward.”

SEFA managing director Rich Radbourne added: “All at SEFA are incredibly excited to finalise this merger, bringing an initial five girls’ and women’s teams under the Soccer Elite banner.

“We are often approached with propositions for partnerships with other clubs and setups, but very rarely has a proposal felt as right from the start as this one has. SEFA have been committed to growing our girls football provision in a smart and sustainable manner, and this merger is a giant leap forward in achieving this aim, with everything fitting together brilliantly between the SEFA Women squads, our Monday Girls Academy and the expansion of the Girls Post-16 Programme.

“By combining the already established setups that SEFA and XL have, and the different areas of expertise that both parties bring to the table, we really do feel we now have all the bases covered to offer an exceptional girls football provision in Kent. We are looking forward to offering a clear pathway for the young female footballers of Kent; starting with the Girls’ Academy, then moving to the JPL squads, then at age 16 players will be able to transition into full time football with a view to becoming a part of the first team or playing further up the pyramid.

“The Post-16 Programme in particular is very exciting for us, and is an area we now have over ten years experience in. There is an ever-increasing demand for full time girls football provisions, and we are looking forward to working with Northfleet School For Girls moving forward, offering top quality sixth form education and daily football training. Then, from September 2025, we will be introducing a girls-specific strand to our SEFA College Programme at Star Meadow, which will allow our female students to study, train and play on site at our fantastic home in Medway.

“It has been a pleasure to get to know Stuart, Natalie and the rest of the XL team over the past few months, and we are looking forward to working together with them to develop the next generation of outstanding young female footballers.”

The next trials for the SEFA Women youth teams take place on Wednesday 5 June (u12-u16) and Wednesday 12 June (u18) at Star Meadow Sports Complex, Darland Avenue, Gillingham, ME7 3AN. You can book onto the trials by clicking here.