I AM CAROL BATES

Meet Crawley Town FC fan, Carol Bates, founder, chair and coach at Crawley Old Girls (COGS), based in England.

Carol has a full-time job, so everything in football is done in her ‘spare time’. Crawley Old Girls (COGS) is a club which encourages ‘older’ women to either get into football for the first time or come back into the game, for fun and enjoyment.

“There are many women who are from the ‘missed generation’ who didn’t get the chance to play when they were younger and are now relishing the fact that they can play. We started in 2015, when I was 48, and I now help to promote Women’s Recreational Football. I love running around a pitch (at my own pace) and coaching the Women’s Walking Football sessions we run. We’ve also worked with The FA to promote good practice and increase participation in Women’s Recreational Football”.

A keen football fan, Carol follows her team both home and away, including wating the Crawley Old Girls. She also has the pleasure of running the match day mascots at home games!

Carol has always been inspired by her dad, who she says, provided her and her sister with a good upbringing.

“My Dad has always been my inspiration; he brought me and my Sister up well, and he started my love of football from a very young age. He’s 80 now but was still going to the gym 2-3 times a week before Covid”! I hope I’m still that energetic at 80!”

As I’ve gone through the last 6 years, growing the Crawley Old Girls, I have met some incredible female role models involved in football. They give so much and have done for many years and are real trailblazers for women and girls, in the game. The more I get to know them and the more I hear about them, the more they inspire me. Rachel Pavlou and Jo Tongue are two such women who continue to pave the way for others to thrive.

In 2015 when Carol and her team, first set up the COGS, they had 10 women on the first night, just wanting to have a kickabout. Since then, they have been constantly promoting how good getting active with a football is for ‘older’ women, not only for complete beginners but those who want to come back into the game.

Their ethos is that everyone is welcome and you don’t have to have any experience, just come and have some fun! They have women from 25 to over 60 who join in the 5 weekly sessions, which cover all abilities from beginners to advanced players.

“We have had some great publicity in the early years, as sessions for ‘older’ women learning to play football was a new genre, and this has led to other groups starting up around the country. Everyone is empowering and inspiring other women to play. It’s becoming a great community and we’re also concentrating on growing the participation, especially as we build up to the WEURO2022 competition in our country”.

Carol’s evenings are spent on her laptop producing more content about the COGS or anything else to do with promoting Women’s Recreational Football. She thinks having a firm belief and ethos in what you’re doing and what you’re trying to achieve is important in helping you overcome any difficulties.

Carol belies that you should ‘be true to yourself and believe in others’.

Carol’s key learnings and lessons to impart on others are:

“Don’t try to do everything yourself and surround yourself with trusted allies. You will achieve much more by bringing others with you on the journey and creating opportunities that you can share. Be willing to take advice and then be confident to either take it or decide not to. If I could tell my 20-year-old self that in 30 odd years’ time I would be the confident person that I now am, it would have saved many years of trying to build up confidence. Be confident when you’re young and don’t wait until 30 years later!”

You can follow the wonderful work of Carol Bates on social media:

Twitter @CarolBates @crawleycogs
Instagram: @carolbates66 @crawleyoldgirls
Facebook: @CrawleyOldGirls
Website: www.crawley-cogs.co.uk.

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