Lincoln City Women draw at Loughborough Lightning

Lincoln City have brought the women’s program under the academy banner, to provide “equal opportunities” for youngsters in the local area.

The new academy and women’s technical director Jon Pepper spoke to The Linc, and said the restructure will provide equal opportunities for both men and women in the local area. He added that the joining of the two will align all of the club’s different pathways.

He said: “The reason the women’s side is coming over is to hopefully utilise the expertise we have within the academy and follow similar processes, bringing the women’s first team in house at the club.

“It’s about overseeing what I’m currently doing, which is the men’s academy, and then bringing in the women’s program into that and into my remit.”

Pepper has close to three decades worth of experiences in coaching, including both academies and women’s teams. He joined Lincoln City in 2022, having previously worked at Burnley, Nottingham Forest and Chesterfield.

Lincoln City's Jon Pepper
Jon Pepper is the new academy and women’s technical director. Credit: Chris Vaughan/Lincoln City FC

The move means that the women’s team will now train at Riseholme College, the base of the Imps’ academy, to give them access to video analysis and strength and conditioning. Pepper believes this will create some “short term gains”.

He added: “Long term, it is about developing our own players, as academy football is basically that. We have a proven model on the male side, where we’ve got a number in the first team already. It might happen quite quickly, in the next 12 to 24 months. We might see a number of players come from the younger age groups because female footballers tend to mature a bit quicker than males.”

Pepper thinks the alignment will means Lincoln City can allow the club to develop more of their own women’s players, reducing the reliance on bringing talent in.

The technical director said: “It’s really exciting, and I think what we are setting up allows players to access the pathway and get to their level, gain experience and strive to be the best they can be. Hopefully what we put in place will be a stepping stone to really good things in life for them.

“It’s not going to happen overnight, I don’t think people can expect a magic wand straight way, it’s a long term project. But, I think there can be some short term gains.”

Lincoln City Women vs Loughborough Lightning
Lincoln City finished 8th in their most recent FA Women’s National League Division One Midlands season. Credit: Graham Burrell

Lincoln’s academy has been successful, seeing the likes of Republic of Ireland under-21s international Sean Roughan, and attacking duo Freddie Draper and Jovon Makama, making it into the first team over recent years.

Pepper said: “The club have got a long-term strategy, and the women’s program forms part of that. It’s been a year in the making. This is part of a bigger strategy, and there’s a bit of momentum now kicking in over the summer. It’s about bringing some processes that we have in the men’s game over to the women’s game.”

The 50-year-old described an interest from the higher-ups at Lincoln City in building a bigger reputation in the women’s game.

He said: “There’s definitely intent, and there is buy-in from the club that comes from [the CEO] Liam Scully and the board, they are very much all for this. It has gone to board level. They are all for this integration, pushing forward the women’s program and making it a bit more higher profile.”

Feature Image Credit: Graham Burrell/Lincoln City FC

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