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Club News

Holly Ready For Launch Of Women's Academy

12 March 2024

Club News

Holly Ready For Launch Of Women's Academy

12 March 2024

A new Women’s Academy will launch at Oldham Athletic next season - and Female Development Officer, Holly Espie, is calling on young players from the local area to sign up.

A UEFA A candidate coach with experience at clubs including Manchester United Women’s Academy, Holly will head up the exciting new programme at Boundary Park.

Holly believes that, whilst football ability is important, nurturing young peoples’ skills as individuals is vital for them to be able to showcase their talent on the pitch.

The Women's Academy is currently looking for players who are leaving school this summers, with details of how to apply below.

That’s why she’s keen for them to progress and people, first and foremost, giving them the best platform to launch their career in sport.

“We like to take a person first approach to the girls we coach," Holly said.

“Looking at how we can develop them as individuals is important, because if they’re not okay and I don’t understand them, then I’m not going to be able to get the best out of them on the pitch.

“We want them to be able to express themselves as individuals.

“From there, developing them as people will transfer over into the classroom where they’re in a good and safe environment, where they can knuckle down and do their studies.

“That opens up their opportunities further, we can look at a scholarship in America or stepping straight into university.

“If someone really wants to go to America, then we can sit down at the end of year one and start speaking to scholarship companies and get them out there.

“The qualification is equivalent to a level two or level three, depending on what pathway they take.

“If they go for level three, that will give them two to three A-Levels, which will take them straight into university.

“The qualification is also a nice stepping stone into apprenticeships or scholarships.

“If they’re not the best academically, which is fine, then a level two will allow them to get access to apprenticeships, or gather other qualifications, such as football coaching qualifications.

“There are lots of options people will have.”

If you are due to leave school this summer, you can apply for a place in the Women's Academy. Email, including a brief description of their footballing experience.


Based at Boundary Park, a set of brand new, bespoke classrooms have been built, giving students the best place to learn as part of their NCFE Level 3 Diploma.

They’ll also be used as part of post-match analysis, where they can discuss and learn from their experiences on the pitch, with the goal of becoming better footballers.

“The day will be split into two, you’ll have two hours of training in the morning or afternoon, and then a few hours to complete work in the classroom.

“That will be the same for Mondays and Tuesdays, with Wednesdays being exclusively for matchdays.

“If for whatever reason we don’t have a match on Wednesday, you might have it off, be given some extra studies, or even some team activities.

“Thursdays will be full of post match work, looking at the game, analysing it, looking at what we did well, what didn’t work, and building on it from there.

“They’ll have Fridays off, unless they need to complete their Maths and English exams.”

Women’s football has grown exponentially in recent years, in part due to the success of the Lionesses.

With football for girls and women in the ascendancy, it’s the perfect time for people to get involved in an exciting, long-term project at Oldham Athletic.

“I think the opportunities and access that young girls have to football have been hugely increased by the recent success of the Lionesses.

“The support and finding that’s been pumped in, as well as being given more coverage on TV gives young girls more role models.

“That fits in to what we’re doing here at Oldham Athletic, we want to give local girls opportunities, and give them the access to football at an early age, which they might not otherwise have.

“It’s playing football which will give them options going forward, whether that be playing at a higher level, recreationally, or moving into coaching.”

Part of that long-term project is the creation of a women’s first-team, giving those joining the course a clear path to openage football, as well as all the benefits of the educational qualifications.

Holly knows just how tough the step up can be, and wants to use her experience to make it as easy as possible.

“I played at the highest level I could, step three and four, then got injured and moved into coaching at Curzon Ashton for six years with their girls team, taking them up until under 16s.

“Then I completed my UEFA B with them and stepped over to Blackburn Rovers Ladies Academy, starting with the under 12s, but went up to the under 16s within the first season.

“I was there for a few years before moving to Manchester United where I am today.

“I got on the UEFA A license course this season, and will be starting that soon.”

“When the women’s first team is up and running, if they feel comfortable enough at the end of the two years, and the ladies’ first team manager is happy, then they will have the opportunity to make that step.

“It’s very hard to go from under 16s to first team, so they need to bridge that gap, giving them that extra training and extra experience.

“That’s if they want to make that step, they might have other plans, other clubs in mind, and that’s fine.

“We’re happy either way, but that opportunity is there for them.

“If you want a career in sport, step over, if you’re passionate about sport, step over.

“This course gives you two years playing football, having fun, whilst getting a qualification alongside it.

“Come and be a part of this journey we’re going on.”

Don't delay in applying for the Women’s Academy for next season. Email, including a brief description of their footballing experience.

Girls who are leaving school this summer, and qualify for the U17s age category are eligible, and are encouraged to register their interest as soon as possible.

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