NEW director of football, Tom Hartley wants to make Swindon Town Women the go-to club for players in the area.

In the days after leaving his former part-time voluntary job as Oxford United Women’s assistant manager, the Swindon fan took on the role of Town Women’s first ever director of football.

Hartley hopes his outstanding history as a coach for The FA and Arsenal Ladies – along with his current full-time job as a mentor for those who develop aspiring Olympic athletes – can help push Town Women onto the next level.

He said: “I recognised quite quickly that although the level is different to Oxford, there is so much room for potential here.

“The growth opportunity is phenomenal here. If you think about women’s football in the region, Bristol City would probably be the closest club who are highly competitive.

“But in terms of the region, there is a huge opportunity to get more goals interested in women’s football.

“I’d love for more girls to come and watch the first-team play, but I’d also want Swindon Town Women to be the club that people who play across tiers two, three, and four want to be at.”

Hartley says his short-term goal is to begin working with all the coaches at every age group in order to “aid their development beyond any normal qualification.”

That includes the recently-appointed first-team manager James Lally, who – along with Hartley – has been tasked with trying to not only lead the club out of the South West Premier division and into tier three, but also help create an elite-club environment for players.

Hartley continued: “At the moment, we don’t have the financial resources to pay.

“It’s not common for players at this level to be paid to play, let alone receive expenses, so it needs to be about the experience they have and making sure they feel connected to the club by giving them a sense of belonging. I think we’ve got all the ingredients to make that happen.

“And with this director of football role, it’s very much about helping the coaches be at their very best too.

“If we do that, then ultimately the girls who come and play will have the best possible experience.

“If you look at the data across any sport, the percentage of players who come from grassroots sport to playing at the very top is extremely small.

“But even if we get a teenage girl who never makes it into the first team, we want her to talk about her time at Swindon as the best time she ever had playing football. That’s our benchmark for success.”