East Kilbride Pirates women’s football are five!

September 30th, 2020

The first open training session for East Kilbride Pirates women – focused on flag initially – kicked off on Wednesday 23 September 2015 at Calderglen High School in East Kilbride, with 15 players coming along to give it ago.

Pirates senior team defensive lineman Tom Lachendro was the driver behind the creation of the team and became EKPW’s first ever head coach.

Mere weeks after the first practice session underway, the team were flung quickly into competition. Ten almost-brand-new players travelled to take part in their first women’s flag tournament as part of BAFA’s then Opal series for women’s football in Leeds on Saturday 24 October 2015!

First practice!

The team played against Sheffield Hallam, Leeds Carnegie, Teeside Steelers and Nottingham University B women’s flag teams. Although EKPW lost their first few games, it was only by a couple of scores – and impressively for such a new team they won their final game of the day 13-6 against Nottingham B. You can find photos from the first tournament here.

A further three Opal Series tournaments would follow, with the team finishing 14th out of the 17 teams competing that year.

With barely a week or two to take a breath, the team moved swiftly to become kitted – following a successful grant application from the National Lottery’s Awards for All scheme with early contact football sessions taking place in January 2016. The first ever women’s flag awards took place that month too – with Offensive Player of the Year Aynsley Barclay and Defensive Player of the Year Lindsey Robson becoming the inaugural winners.

Another first followed very shortly – the first ever women’s contact tournament as part of BAFA’s Sapphire series beckoned. Hosted by Edinburgh Wolves at South Queensferry on 27 February 2016, EKPW lost against both Teesside Steelers and the hosts.

EKPW got a chance to host their very first kitted home tournament at Hamilton Palace Sports Ground just a few weeks after on Saturday 12 March, and achieve their first ever kitted win – a narrow 8-6 victory over the Wolves. You can find photos from their first ever home tournament here.

The team’s first contacts awards night was held in Glasgow on Friday 10 June 2016, with the inaugural kitted honours going to Most Improved Player – Amy Oliver, Sapphire Offensive MVP – Claire Cochrane, Sapphire Defensive MVP – Angela Wilson and Coaches’ MVP – Claire Cochrane.

STV appearance promoting EKPW – ‘big hands’

The awards night also saw the formal departure of founder and head coach Tom Lachendro, who would move to the US shortly afterwards, to become a coach at Kenyon College in Ohio. Offensive coordinator Alan Young was announced as the next head coach of East Kilbride Pirates women – at that point still covering both flag and contact.

The team would remain as one single entity until April 2017, when it became increasingly clear than in order to progress EKPW needed to split into separate contact and flag teams. Alan Young remained as flag head coach, with defensive coordinator Andrew McGowan becoming contact head coach.

First awards night!

Since then both teams have continued to grow and compete. EKPW flag defensive coordinater Andrew Gibson took over as women’s flag head coach from Alan Young in August 2019 and built on their growing success to lead them a spot as #3 women’s flag team in the UK.

Meanwhile EKPW contact gained the UK’s first ever female head coach of a women’s contact team in August 2018 in the shape of founding player Claire Cochrane – who is now also the club’s longest tenured women’s contact head coach.

The club has been delighted to see other EKPW players get involved with coaching too, with Gill McNicoll becoming EKPW contact defensive line coach for the 2019/2020 season, EKPW flag captain Heather McGowan regularly working with our Hamilton Buccaneers cadet flag team, and EKPW contact players Nicole Smith, Charli Sinclair and Zoe Hatfield joining our U19 contact coaching staff.

EKPW players – both flag and contact – have also gone on to represent Great Britain.

First kitted practice – courtesy Duncolm Photography

Aynsley Barclay, Louise Donnelly and Robyn McCluskey from EKPW flag are part of the GB Silver Lions women’s flag development squad.  Aimee Wilson, another of our very first players, has now competed in multiple GB women’s contact campaigns, while Ashleigh Bell who joined us in 2019 competed in the most recent GB women’s campaign as a Pirate.

Although both women’s flag and women’s contact seasons for 2020 have been postponed, EKPW flag are already back to work practicing, and EKPW contact are set to follow shortly!  If you’re interested in playing or coaching, contact info@piratesfootball.co.uk


Share this article