New Kent boss takes over at crucial time for women’s representative football

Simon Walker (Photo: Kent FA)

Simon Walker (r) wants players to be proud to represent Kent (Photo: Kent FA)

In the week when applications closed for the job of managing Sussex FA’s revived women’s representative team, Kent FA has appointed its own new manager following the resignation of Bill Long.

Simon Walker, manager of Dartford under-15s, is Kent women’s new boss and revealed an impressive and refreshing enthusiasm for the role, which is unpaid.

He’ll probably need all of that enthusiasm, with women’s representative football in the South East at a low ebb and seemingly at a watershed.

Sussex FA is looking for a new manager after failing to attract interest during the summer following the resignation of previous management team Emma Millington and Carly Noakes.

With its new football committee chairman, Gareth Flemington, an enthusiastic supporter of representative football – and of the women’s game – Sussex FA hopes there will have been sufficient interest by the time today’s deadline passed to ensure that the county fields a women’s side again next season after this year’s absence.

With no Sussex team, and with the RAF and Royal Navy also not participating, the Southern Counties Cup – a mini-league involving county and military football associations in the region – took on almost farcical proportions this season and was over by December.

Passion and privilege

Middlesex FA won the tournament by virtue of winning their two matches – against the Army and against Kent, who lost both their fixtures, having won the trophy last term, when there were five teams involved.

It is understood the county associations are currently considering potential formats for next season, when it is hoped Sussex at least will be ready to rejoin the fray.

Meanwhile, their neighbours in Kent have a new man at the helm who seems certain to inject some much-needed passion into representative football.

Simon Walker told the Kent FA website he felt privileged even to have been considered, let alone offered the job.

And he feels honoured to have the chance to work with the county’s best players.

He said: “I want the players to be proud to play for Kent. It is a privilege to play for your county. When they come to training and cross that white line for a match they leave everything on the pitch. I play to win and want the girls to have the same steel and attitude.”

Walker has level-two FA coaching qualifications and is about to secure a Uefa B licence. As well as managing Dartford Girls, he is a coach at Ryman League club Thurrock FC.

He was also formerly assistant manager with Watford’s development side.

His predecessor, Bill Long, ran the county side for two seasons, including last term’s trophy-winning campaign, before stepping down because of other commitments.

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