FOOTBALL mum Heather Wheeler has spent hours standing on the sidelines – and in all weathers – to cheer on her daughter.
But now she has a whole new list of pitchside duties after becoming team coach with the Hebburn Town Honeys.
The Under-12 ladies’ team is part of Hebburn Town Juniors Football Club and Mrs Wheeler, 40, took over after work commitments forced the former coach to call it a day
She said: “They are an amazing bunch of girls and a real pleasure to coach. It’s just a privilege I have been given this opportunity.”
She first became involved in the club, which trains at Clegwell Community Centre in Mountbatten Avenue, Hebburn, on Tuesday nights, after her daughter Amy, now 11, became interested in playing football.
As a mum on the sidelines, she spent hours cheering on the girls who play in the Russell Foster League.
Now she’s in charge of organising training sessions, picking the team and arranging fixtures.
Unlike actress Cherie Lunghi, who played Gabrielle Benson in the cult TV programme The Manageress, Mrs Wheeler is club coach.
Mrs Wheeler said: “I could see how much fun the girls were having, and how well they had bonded with each other.
“When the coach said he could no longer carry on, it threw all of that into doubt, and that was one of the main reasons I took on the role.
“I haven’t regretted it for a minute.”
Mrs Wheeler, who is a Newcastle United fan, is helped in her training sessions by Chloe Dunn, who plays for Birtley, and Elice Clarke, who plays five-a-side for a team based in Middlesbrough.
She is working towards her coaching qualifications.
She added: “The girls are doing really well, and are improving in their game.
“But because we have two girls who are 11, quite often they end up playing against players who are a lot older than them, but they are doing brilliantly.
“The important thing is that they are enjoying playing,” added Mrs Wheeler, from Silksworth, Sunderland.
Chairman of the club – which was voted grassroots club of the year by the English Football Association – Stephen Rutherford, said: “Last year, Heather was an eager parent so, when an opportunity arose for a new coach, it was great that she agreed to take on the role.
“It is also fits in with our plans to recruit more girls to our club. Since we started our recruitment drive, we have gone from 10 players to 30.”
Any girls interested in joining the Hebburn Town Honeys should call Mrs Wheeler on 07590 928602,
For information on other teams available at Hebburn Town Juniors for youngsters to play in, visit www.hebburntownjuniorsfc.co.uk