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How An All-Girls Football Club is Tackling Mental Health Head On

FC Darlington Locomotives © Peter Nelson
February 2024
Reading time 3 Minutes

Chairman Nathan Beadle tells us about providing a safe space for girls' football

This Children's Mental Health Week (5th-11th February), Living North caught up with the Chairman of a girls-only FC Darlington Locomotives FC to chat over the importance of advocating for young girls in the sport.

Tell me about the background of FC Darlington Locomotives?
FC Darlington Locomotives is an all-girls football club formed in 2021 on the back of a separation from a club where we were the so-called ‘girls’ section’ and were no longer required. We felt our girls needed to be the main priority and so created the club with the vision that we would provide football for every girl, regardless of background and ability. When the club was formed, we had an estimated 120 girls playing across six teams. We now have more than 200 participants playing over nine teams and three development centres – providing football for girls aged three and over. The club is run by more than 30 volunteers who give up endless amounts of their spare time to provide the best support for the girls.

Was it important to you for it to be a girls-only club?
At previous clubs we found that girls playing football were not prioritised or treated fairly compared with other participants. We believe that the importance of a safe space for girls to play is imperative for footballing and personal development. It also helps us sustain a familial and community feeling within our club. The teams support each other and often older players are involved in coaching younger age groups.

It’s Children’s Mental Health Week. Can you tell us about the importance of advocating for the girls and how the club deals with mental health?
The club ensures all volunteers are fully up to date with all relevant qualifications, as well as offering Mental Health for Sport and Physical Activity CPD courses after acquiring licences from Tees Valley Sport. We also have a player representative on our committee who brings any issues regarding players’ welfare, happiness and project ideas put forward by the girls. We have a robust internal reporting system which would see our welfare team offer support for children needing mental health support as well as linking with and supporting our local MIND.

What has the feedback been like for the club?
We have been overjoyed by the support for our club since it was founded. We have wonderful sponsors who make it possible for us to provide players with full playing, training and leisure kit to enable them to enjoy their footballing journey.

What can we expect from the club in 2024?
In March 2024 we are launching our ladies team, meaning we have competitive provision in football for all ages. We will also work hard to expand our Little Locos (ages three to five) and Development Centre (ages five to 11) to ensure there is a place for everyone at our club.

To find out more about the club, visit

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