Chichester City have appointed former goalkeeper Sadie Blakely as their new manager after an unveiling an all-female coaching staff.
The Oaklands Park side acted quickly to replace Aaron Smith after he guided them to their highest ever league finish in the club’s history.
Blakely will have her work cut out to match this season’s return which saw City finish third in the Women’s National Southern Premier and lift the Sussex Challenge Cup.
She will be supported by assistant Laura Galway, player-coach Kim Stenning – who is currently studying for a UEFA A licence, and head of youth Emma Alexandre.
A club statement said: “Sadie comes to the club with experience of our current league as a winner and with many years in the game at a high level. She has previously also played for our first team.
“Other coaching and behind the scenes roles are currently to be confirmed and will be here for the start of the new season.
“One thing we are very proud of is that we have chosen four women to run our first team (alongside others) and just shows the dedication and commitment to the women’s game by our club.”
The club have also confirmed that they will be looking to add an under 21s side to the set-up which will run in addition to the successful development side.
The statement added: “We are as a committee excited about the future of the club and bringing football to girls and ladies in the local area and progressing our club behind the scenes ready for when we can make the next steps forward.”
Blakely replaces Smith, who spent nearly two years at Oaklands Park, coming in as assistant manager before taking the head job last summer.
During his 12 months as manager he helped develop the squad depth while ensuring the club defied all expectations by challenging at the top end of an extremely competitive third tier of the women’s game.
Highlights include beating Brighton & Hove Albion to lift the Sussex Challenge Cup and beating the then undefeated leaders, Coventry United, away from home.
In a parting statement, Smith said: “I am thoroughly proud of the results this season and want to thank Matt [Wright] and Caz [Henry-Evans] for bringing me into the club.
“Thank you of course all of the players who have taken us to the club’s highest ever position in the women’s pyramid and who have been like a family to me.”