A warrior in women’s football

They call her the Chief of the Warriors. And rightly so.

Over the last three years, Megan Wylde has fought for a space in football for women like her. She’s become a community powerhouse, changing the landscape of football and fitness in her hometown of Rotherham.

Her tribe of fellow Warriors, now well over 70 women, have been empowered to improve their fitness or get back into the game they loved thanks to Meg.

Together with her wife Natasha, Meg now runs the Millmoor Warriors women’s recreational football club, Memo Warriors fitness classes, Wandering Warriors running group, and Mini Warriors youth upskilling programme.

It all started in 2021 when Meg had the idea to set up a fitness session at Millmoor Juniors FC in Kimberworth for women dropping their kids off at football training.

“They’d either be sat in the car or stood on the side of the pitch waiting, so why not be doing something for themselves in that time?” Meg says.

While the kids were busy on the pitch, mums, grandmas and even aunties would be put through their paces on the sidelines by former prison service personal trainer, Meg. But the sessions were also about having fun while exercising.

Since then, the Memo Warriors sessions have attracted many women looking for an alternative to your regular gym environment. Women like 40-year-old Julie who walked past a session one evening, saw them all having a laugh, and signed up for the following week – she’s since lost over a stone in weight and completed her first 5K run.

“I wanted to create a community where everyone felt happy,” Meg says. “We now have lasses who are 16 or 18 right up to women in their 50s, and they all encourage and motivate one another. Some of them have got together and started doing the Park Run at Clifton Park each week, calling themselves the Wandering Warriors.”

Leading on from the fitness sessions, Meg then set up a women’s rec football team down at Millmoor Juniors, where she’s been a women’s football coach for the last eight years. Recreational football encourages women to get back into the game playing five-, six- or seven-a-side football.

“There wasn’t an opportunity for women to just play football without being in an 11-a-side team. Women like me who played football before and stopped because of their careers, marriage, or family commitments. But also women like our oldest Warrior Sam who’d never kicked a ball in her life before she joined.”

They now have enough players to field three teams at tournaments and in the Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA’s women’s recreational flexi league. They train once a week and play friendlies or league games every other Sunday.

The Warriors rec team runs alongside Millmoor Juniors Ladies FC, adding yet another avenue to the female pathway. They have an under 18s squad, development team, and senior first team of which Meg is the coach. She also wants to start an over 35s team for those who played at first-team level to enable them to continue playing for longer.

Meg’s influence also extends into the wider community. When she’s not on the football pitch, she spends her days upskilling young people who’ve been pushed to the sidelines.

Having spent six years working in juvenile prisons, she now helps 16- to 18-year-olds who aren’t in employment or education find their way in life. Meg has recently helped one young woman through a referee course, and two of her young people now independently run the café at Millmoor Juniors.

For all this and more, Meg was awarded the highly commended Lioness’ Award at last year’s grassroots awards hosted by Sheffield and Hallamshire County FA.  

Want to join the tribe?

Memo Warriors sessions are Mondays and Thursdays 7pm-8pm at Millenium Boxing Gym (Paleo Fitness) Masbrough St, Rotherham S60 1EX. Sessions are £5 or £25 a month for unlimited classes. Follow them on Facebook for more details.

Millmoor Warriors LFC train every Monday night 7pm-8pm at DVC Sports, Swinton, Rotherham S63 7EW. Sessions are £3. Matches are every other Sunday. Follow them on Facebook for more details.