By Paul Alexander  

Ballymena United F.C. Women manager Daniel Carlisle has set himself the target of helping his side to win promotion to the Danske Bank Women’s Premiership.  

The recently appointed manager has previously been involved with Liverpool Feds F.C. Women and Larne F.C. Women, before becoming the Youth Academy Director of his current side in June of last year. 

When asked why he decided to apply for the role, Carlisle was quick to point to his love for the club. He said: “I put myself forward for the role to, basically, try and push women’s football on in the area and do the best that I can for a club that I love.  

“Obviously I took my wee sabbatical when I went to Liverpool, and then Larne, but I’ve been at Ballymena since I was five and played in the youth academy until I was seventeen before moving on. Of course, with my family’s history at the club, it’s a club that I feel very passionate about.  

He continued: “When the opportunity came about to put my name forward to become the first-team manager of the women’s set-up, it was something I was really intrigued by. It was something that I wanted to give a go and, ultimately, to try and get Ballymena United Women into the Premiership. To try and give as many girls in the area the opportunity of playing at the highest level possible.” 

The new boss is also pleased with the quality of players he has inherited. He said: “The squad of players I have are so talented – they’re a great bunch. First of all, they’re brilliant people to work with. Their personalities just rub off on you the second you walk in the door.  

“Alvin, Paul and Jason are the guys that work with me at the club. We always talk about creating an environment in which people can feel comfortable and can feel open to express themselves – on and off the pitch. But we also have to create an environment where everyone feels as though they’re there to learn and they’re there to drive each other forward and demand the most out of each other that they can.  

He continued: “The players themselves, just by their personalities and who they are, create that environment perfectly. In terms of their actual technical ability – they’re fantastic. We’ve got a great group of players there to work with and I’m excited to see what we, as a coaching staff, can give them to try and drive them forward this season.” 

In relation to the season ahead, Carlisle explained why he believes it’s hard to assess potential objectives. He said: “Coming out of the pandemic, it’s very difficult, in my opinion, to make predictions and make expectations about where we’re going to finish in the league and how far we’re going to get in the cup. That’s difficult to do just at the moment.  

 “We’ve had two sessions with the girls and we’ve had a Zoom call between the two sides. We’ll try to get them to get as fit as possible for the start of the season, but we don’t know when that will be. All that we demand of the players is what we describe as our non-negotiables in our management style.  

He added: “That’s all we demand – hard work, effort, being coachable, the willingness to learn, the willingness to develop, the willingness to try your best.” 

With regards to his overall aims for his time at the club, Carlisle referred to promotion and the Premiership. He said: “Well the long-term aim for our club is to have, number one, our first-team either playing in, or pushing to get into, the Premiership and having the facilities and the means behind us to do so.  

“There are certain criteria we have to meet in order to play in the Premiership and we have to be in a position to offer that for our club. Ultimately, the next step for us is to make sure that we’re in a position to say we have everything behind us. That we’ve met all the criteria to play in the Premiership and be classed as one of the best teams in the country.”