New teams wanted for Welwyn Hatfield Sunday Football League

Welwyn Rangers lift the cup

Welwyn Rangers lift the cup - Credit: Archant

As the Welwyn Hatfield Sunday Football League cup finals begin, we take a look at plans to develop the league as it hopes to recruit new teams ahead of the 2014/15 season.

Chris Harris lifts the cup for Welwyn Rangers

Chris Harris lifts the cup for Welwyn Rangers - Credit: Archant

Cup finals are in full swing in the Welwyn Hatfield Sunday Football League for this season, but plans are already in place for next term.

The league, which formed in 1961, is hoping to attract new teams who fancy gunning for glory and emulating the likes of Welwyn Rangers who lifted the Memorial Cup on Sunday with a 5-2 victory over Eights Bells in the first of six finals to be played over the coming weeks.

Looking ahead to the next campaign, the league has annouced KLM Sports will be a sponsor.

In addition, Finesse Leisure will allow existing and new clubs to enjoy lower fees than would ordinarily be possible.

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Welwyn Parish Council will continue to provide excellent facilities for the cup finals and host one of their teams throughout the season.

Other providers that continue to support the clubs are Woolmer Green Parish Council, the University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield Town Council and Stanborough School.

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The league is keen to welcome new teams to their structure as for some time the adult 11 vs 11 game has been in decline nationally and the Welwyn Hatfield initially reflected the trend.

More recently though, there has been a steeper decline than in many areas and there are now just 15 teams competing in three divisions.

The reasons for this are complex; the rapid growth of small-sided football hasn’t helped, while lifestyle changes, employment opportunties and requirements, other sport and leisure opportunties that have evolved, plus the strains that modern day living places upon relationships, and, of course, cost.

Now is the time for change and is the time in the season to start that new team you have been thinking about starting for the last few months or years.

The league, with the help of their partners, can offer new start-up clubs a number of concessions to reduce the start-up cost of forming.

In addition they can provide buddy style support and help for those who have the desire, but neither the knowledge or experience in running a sport-based club.

The league is also considering adding a feeder division to their structure for all those teams who feel they are not quite up to standard yet, but would benefit from organised and meaningful games with like-minded teams.

They will be inviting the area’s U18, U19, U20 and U21 teams to join them for their first step into the adult game, while having the safe haven of similar young and/or inexperienced teams to play against.

Some of those teams will then be invited to enter the Memorial Cup, and, of course, there is that top slot in the division earning the opportunity to progress into other divisions.

It is the league’s intention, through creative rule structure, to allow younger sides to enter and stay together, though there may be many years between the oldest and youngest and equally for a club to hold its feeder position as a bridge for its youth players to pass through.

Over the years WHSFL have, to compliment the league divisions and the league cups, developed an FA Cup-style President’s Cup competition, and more recently a Champions League-style Memorial Cup.

They have worked with local leagues, particularly Stevenage, where a club-based, cross league tournament, the ICL Cup, ran for a few seasons.

Various pre-season and end of season tournaments have been held over the years, and plans are underway to round off this 2013/14 season with a five or six-a-side tournament into which all existing clubs, along with all new and prospective sides, will be invited.

In the meantime, the current season is coming to an exciting climax with plenty of silverware up for grabs.

The next five weeks see the season draw to a close with the finals of the Division Two League Cup (March 30), Premier Division League Cup (April 6), the Chairman’s Cup (April 13), Division One League Cup (April 20) and finally, the President’s Cup (April 27) all being played out.

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