Canterbury Old Bags Utd



The Canterbury Old Bags were started up by Jo Treharne (48), in January 2017, after Jo took her FA Level 1 in October 2016 and since then they have gone from strength to strength.  Carol Bates spoke to Jo to find out more about how it all started and what’s happened since that first session.

The “Bags”.

CB:   What gave you the idea to start up the Canterbury Old Bags and who thought up your name? We love it!

JT:   I was inspired by seeing the COGS on the telly! I have always loved football and used to play as a child, but like most women my age (48) I wasn’t allowed to play at school. I used to play at breaktimes and lunchtimes but I was told to stop that too. Later when my daughter started playing (about 6 years ago) I realised what I had missed out on. Seeing the COGs made me realise that it wasn’t too late.

My daughter plays in the Kent Girls League and of all the teams we meet in the League, only one had a female coach. I thought ‘I could do that’. So one day, in a fit of madness, I enrolled onto the Level 1 course with the Kent FA.  I was the only woman on my course and everyone else was already coaching, I felt like an absolute fish out of water.

The ‘old bags’ thing was kind of my idea, a bit of a pre-emptive strike. It makes people laugh and shows we don’t take ourselves too seriously. In April, I was hospitalised with meningitis and they all clubbed together and bought me chocolates and flowers. In the card someone had written ‘Bags for life’! So that’s now our catchphrase!

CB:  What would your advice be to someone who wanted to start up a group, themselves?

JT:  I think get a decent venue if you can and don’t be scared to charge people a proper amount to cover the cost if you need to. Most Zumba / aerobics classes are well over a fiver these days and in some areas nearer £8 – so an hour of structured football-related fitness is worth a few quid – and is much more fun of course. Use Facebook to create a sense of community and have lots of socials as well as the football – we are having a Christmas dinner this year and we have plenty of pub meet ups too.

CB:  What help, if any, do you have running the whole group and your sessions?

JT:  Luckily right at the start I had a message from Chantelle (25), who wanted to help out. She had played a lot of organised football in the past (much more than me) and so was very knowledgeable. She became my assistant coach and is now a close friend. The bags themselves are helpful with equipment and stuff like that, they are all very supportive of me!

CB:  How have you grown from your first session and how have you changed anything since then, if at all?

JT:  We’ve changed quite a lot in our first year. At first I had to run two groups as I had a lot of people and the venue was too small to accommodate all of them (it was a 5 a side football cage). Then in the summer as we were on grass pitches I was able to combine the groups and do a longer session. The drawback was that at the end of it everyone had bonded and didn’t want to be split up again! So I had to source a larger astro pitch which luckily I was able to do. Now I have around 20 or 25 players on a Thursday and we still run a session on a Friday for younger or fitter ladies. Some of our Thursday group now play on Fridays too.

CB:  Tell us about the “Bags”?  What age range are your ladies and where did you find them? Please don’t say Tesco! 😊

JT:  To start with I roped in a few mates who wanted to try and I posted on a local Facebook page that I was thinking about starting a women’s over 30 football club –  it literally went crazy, I had over 100 replies. My mates told me that they only said yes because they wanted to support me, but now they are hooked! At the start I got lots of messages from younger girls wanting to play so I set up a ‘young bags’ group on a different night to accommodate them. Our oldest player is 58. Some have never even watched football before never mind played it! I have had to explain the difference between a throw-in and a goal kick – the best one was someone trying to throw from a corner. When I told her to kick it she kicked it out of her hands…

CB:  What have you done to spread the word and encourage more ladies to join you?

JT:  It’s all been done through Facebook and people bringing friends along, we haven’t needed to advertise anywhere else

CB:  You held an extremely successful tournament, for beginners’/over 30 last month, in conjunction with Kent FA, which was really well attended and thoroughly enjoyed by everyone, how did that come about and do you plan to do more?

Over 100 ladies new to football and over 30 enjoyed the fantastic “Match Fit” COBS’ Tournament – Oct. ’17.

JT:  In June we were invited at the last minute to attend a tournament in Surrey which suddenly had a space for a team. The girls who played absolutely loved it and I just thought, ok, we’ll do our own then! I hired a very large 4G pitch and invited all the teams from Surrey and a couple of new ones from Kent. Herne Bay were able to field a team and Kings Hill sent three players. Kent FA supported us and it went really well. We absolutely want to do more! I think twice a year would be great.

When the COGS met the COBS at their 1st Tournament, in Whyteleafe – June ’17.

CB:  Finally, as you are becoming very popular, what are your plans for the future?

JT:  I really want to make sure that everyone who wants to have a go feels included and welcome, so the plan is to start a ‘beginners only’ session again to run at the same time for people who missed the start last time and feel they might have been left behind. I’ve got a new coach on board, Alison, who has said she can take the session so we’ll start that after Christmas. Also someone else said… football camp??

Thanks, Jo!  Having seen what a great bunch of “Bags” you are, we’ve no doubt you will be having plenty more women join you, in the future!

If you want to learn more about the Canterbury Old Bags, you can find them on Facebook  or contact Jo by email: