Derby County Football Club Women

Change for Under 13 WS as Millington Develops as Coach

It’s been all change for our Under 13 White Socks side with the majority of the side new to the club this season but despite the personnel changes, Coach Zoe Millington has been pleased with the progress of her side and talks her own journey as a coach.

We spoke with Derby County Women Academy Director Dave Cholerton who gives an overview of the U13 White Socks side this season before Millington expands further on the changes in place and how they have adapted as a new look side.

Cholerton said “We have recruited new players to this team and they have settled really well. We are impressed by the work that new coaches Zoe and Keith are doing and as a team the girls are really developing.

 It’s never easy when players and coaches leave but the girls have responded brilliantly and I’m sure they’ll continue to develop in the second half of the season.”

Millington expanded on the changes the squad have faced in the run-up to the season but has been delighted with the effort and commitment from a squad that has had to gel in these uncertain times.

Millington said “The U13 WS have come together as almost a brand-new team this season with only 4 players and myself as a coach returning to the team from the previous season. 

“This has put everyone on a level playing field in terms of showing off their skills and techniques. In terms of team bonding this season, there was only so much Keith and myself could do to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere whilst adhering to all the restrictions we experienced at the beginning of the season, which meant it was ultimately down to the girls to gel and encourage each other to form new friendships by supporting one another in training, shouting praise from the side-line and just generally including everyone which they have all done fantastically!

“For anyone dreaming of becoming a player within senior football it’s important to work hard at training, learn and take the opportunities given to you. As a player who came through the academy myself, I was given the opportunity to play up a year with more experienced girls and against tougher opposition which made me stronger and more resilient when it came to facing challenges in the future. 

“I realised that if I worked hard and spent time learning my new found skills at home then I was noticed at the following training session because I was able to use them to my advantage. This helped me get my foot in the door with the senior teams because my teammates and coaches knew what my abilities were and therefore wanted to keep me at the club. 

“From this, my advice would be to keep going, keep learning and keep your head up high, even during the toughest times because it builds character and you never know what opportunities may be heading your way in the future.”

As a former player at the club with first team experience, Millington has continued to develop as a coach and is enjoying her time having moved up to a management role.

“I have coached at DCFCW for around 4 seasons starting as the GK coach for the whole academy set-up, then moving onto assistant coach for 2 seasons and now as a manger this season. 

“It was important for me to work my way up through the ranks because it’s given me an appreciation of all the roles here within the academy. Throughout the seasons I have experienced different coaching styles, improved my confidence and gained an understanding of youth girls’ football. 

“This season is my first as a manager which I was both nervous and excited about, I couldn’t wait for the season to begin and to meet my new supporting coach Keith. Despite 2020 not being a normal year by any means, I have enjoyed the challenge so far and the team have been brilliant with their morale, enthusiasm and eagerness to play football whenever we get together at training and matches.

“I’ve never been alone in my journey because I’ve had a great network of support including my supporting coach Keith, the academy director Dave and all the parents who lend a hand each week which has made this season really enjoyable so far.”