Panthers hope to be saved by new generation of players

Panthers players at training.
Panthers players at training.

The longest-running ladies rugby club in the country is urgently seeking players to help avoid the possibility of having to disband completely.

Chesterfield Panthers currently don’t have enough players to compete in a league, the first time that’s happened in its 17-year history.

Anna Cockings

Anna Cockings

And despite a thriving junior section, it is adult players the club now needs to recruit by the summer to ensure it can again play competitively next season.

Current player Anna Cockings said: “We’ve always had a strong team but a lot of our girls are getting a bit older now and have had to stop playing, leaving us with around five or six players which obviously wasn’t enough to play in a league, but those players are now hoping to coach those who might join up.

“The youth section is strong with around 20-30 players turning up each week but they’re only up to the age of about 14 and the gap is too big - we need players aged 17 and upwards.

“No experience is needed - I was a complete novice when I joined the team three years ago - and we have until the summer to get plenty of training in and to hopefully recruit ladies and then help turn them into good enough players.”

Last season's Panthers squad.

Last season's Panthers squad.

This Sunday (14th), an event dubbed ‘Inner Warrior’ will see players aged 11 or above invited to the Panthers ground on Dunstan Road.

The introductory sessions to the basics of rugby will be held from 1-2.30pm with girls aged 11-17 and ladies aged 18 or over invited to attend. The session is free of charge.

Cockings added: “This will be a good starting point for players but we also run training sessions on Thursday nights which people are welcome to attend, as well as some Sundays given we don’t have league games to play at the moment.

“When we are in a league, we only tend to have games one or two Sundays a month and don’t necessarily need people to commit to every single one, but we need a squad of 15-20 players to be able to call upon and simply don’t have that at the moment.

“If we can’t get enough players by around July time then we won’t be accepted into the league and I can’t see any other option other than that the ladies section would have to be disbanded, which would obviously be a massive shame as it’s such an enjoyable thing to be part of.”

For more information about the club or to enquire about playing, contact Anna Cockings on 07582 744696.