Accrington Stanley Women FC has announced a new chair, Sami Smithson, appointed due to the current chair completing an eighteen-month period and now concentrating on her role as company director, remaining on the board to continue her work.
Having an excellent sporting pedigree, Sami joins straight from her previous post as head of safeguarding, inclusion and wellbeing at the British Judo Association. She has had a lifelong interest in the sport, with her parents running a judo club in Accrington, and taking that all the way to competing for the GB Judo team as an athlete from 1992-2004, achieving a European Silver Medal as well as competing in the American and Canadian Opens.
Sami also has an impressive employment history, serving in the RAF for 18 years, working her way up to Squadron Leader and serving two full tours of Afghanistan, one of Iraq, plus other exercises around the world. Following her retirement from duty, she took up other executive positions within the sporting world, and also began offering sports therapy services, including mentoring. She was attracted to the position of Chair to be able to give something back to her home town and be more directly involved in grassroots sport locally.
Sami said: "In addition to my high performance sport, I've always played football - back in the very early days of Accrington Stanley Women and Blackburn Rovers Women, I used to play with my mum. The age groups were very mixed then as there just wasn't as many players, and I'm delighted to see that Accrington Stanley Women now have over 190 players across all age levels.
"It's really key to me that people enjoy their sport. The benefits are huge, the personal growth and confidence we see in players over time really shows what can be achieved through encouragement and coaching. At Accrington Stanley Women FC, I'll be looking to push on the high performance side, but will also get involved with the grassroots development through the age groups.
"We want to create a level playing field, where people have access to sport and can enjoy it for the physical side, but also mental wellbeing and a sense of belonging.
"This is a fantastic leadership role. I'll be spending the rest of the season observing, and making key connections. During the summer break, we can review our strategy, and then implement for the new season in 23/24. I'm looking forward to a bigger pyramid, and spending time at grassroots level growing the sport!"
Kelly-Ann Groves, company director at Accrington Stanley Women, added: "We're delighted to be able to bring Sami on board, with her sporting and leadership experience. She's very knowledgeable and will bring great strategy to the role, as we enter our next phase of development for the club across all age groups!"
Accrington Stanley Women are sponsored by Sundown Solutions. They are actively looking for more volunteers and committee members. If you'd like to sponsor a match, please email email@example.com