Doncaster Belles: ‘Chippy’ ready to ring in a new era

Doncaster Belles manager Julie Chipchase in 1997.

Doncaster Belles manager Julie Chipchase in 1997.

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Julie Chipchase could not hide her delight after returning to the club she played for and managed.

Having spent six seasons as a Doncaster Rovers Belles player and six as a manager and reserves boss since the ‘90s, the women’s footballing legend has come back to take on her new-found role of director of football at the club.

“I’m very excited to be back at the club,” said the former Leeds United chief.

“I used to play and manage Doncaster Belles so I will always see it as ‘my club’.

“It’s fantastic to be back at the club I’ve loved all these years.”

A leading coach with the FA, Chipchase told the Free Press she will be using her skills to make sure the Belles have the best coaches and players available.

“We want to be able to develop players and coaches throughout the club from junior level all the way to the open age,” said Chipchase who led the Belles to an FA Cup final and league runner-up spot.

“Doncaster Belles have always been a club not just about the first team - the women’s team is obviously important - but it’s about developing youngsters and being a club not just one team.

“They might want to go into coaching, managing, media or other avenues and we want to be able to provide that for them.

“I’ve spoken to the players and they seem excited about what’s happening with the club.”

The Belles announced earlier in the year that investment from London-based BPP University and a new board would be developing a ‘10 year plan’ to get the club challenging for silverware and to become a force in European football.

Chipchase’s directorship was announced following the Belles’ final match of the Women’s Super League 2013 campaign - a day which marked the club’s end of a 22-year reign in the top flight.

Boss John Buckley exited the Belles on the same day by “mutual agreement” after 10 years at the helm.

Chipchase told the Free Press that the club’s current main priority was the search for a new manager in their preparations for the 2014 WSL2 campaign.

“We are looking at applications at the moment. It will be a group of people who decide on the manager, not just one person,” she said.

“We want somebody who has experience of the women’s game, a coaching background, someone who can work with elite players and they have to have an FA ‘A’ Licence.

“They must have the right experience and qualifications but also fit in with the club, the players and what is needed to drive Doncaster Belles forward.”

On Buckley’s departure she added: “He has been fantastic for the club, he’s brought some top players to the Belles and I offer my greatest wishes to him.”