For some time the Aston Villa Women have been looking for off-the-pitch leadership.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Since the end of last season, Aston Villa Women have been looking for a leader – but not one that is necessarily going to be anywhere near the pitch.
Searches started over the summer as the club advertised for a role titled ‘Head of Women’s Football’, but seemingly nothing came from it or the club had decided that it wanted to pursue a different path.
Over six months later, Christian Purslow and company have finally secured their ‘leader’, in the form of the recently retired Juventus and Chelsea forward Eniola Aluko.
Vastly experienced, the Birmingham-raised Aluko has played across three different countries that offer their own enigmatic styles of football, amassed over a century of appearances for the England national team and has been a pioneer in moving the game forward. She is the first female pundit to have appeared on BBC’s Match of the Day, in 2014, and was the first female athlete to sign a multi-year deal with Under Armour in 2016.
As a player, she also performed at three World Cups and two European Championships.
This role allows a more drilled-down approach for the Aston Villa Women, who may previously have relied on the likes of Christian Purslow, who would arguably also be incredibly busy working alongside the men’s team, and Eniola, who has a Law degree and a recently acquired Master’s degree focusing on administration and business in football, will be able to provide that.
Speaking to the club, Aluko was keen to build on what the new ownership at Aston Villa Women have started.
“It’s about setting our objectives high and establishing ourselves as the best club in the Midlands.
“From my point of view, it’s also about establishing a culture of excellence that I’ve experienced as a player.
“The owners are very serious about and committed to making sure that Aston Villa Women are in the best position to be the dominant side in the Midlands and an established side in the Women’s Super League.”
These words echo those of Christian Purslow towards the tail end of last season as Jodie Hutton became the first player to be rewarded with a Professional contract, where he stated that Hutton’s contract would just be the first step in exponential growth at the club.
Whilst the club has pulled of a number of coups this summer in the form of players like Emma Follis, perhaps their patience in waiting to hire a Sporting Director has paid off – as Eniola Aluko can certainly be considered in that ‘coup’ bracket.