Barrow chairman sets sights on Women’s Super League titles

Barrow chairman Steve Neale

Barrow chairman Steve Neale has his sights on Super League honours for the club’s ladies team following their promotion.

Barrow Raiders Ladies, along with Leigh Miners Rangers, have been promoted to join the 10 Women Super League clubs – meaning the competition will have expanded by 200% since it was launched as a four-team Super League in 2017.

Raiders Ladies will feature in Super League 2, but Neale has his sights on the top division, winning titles and producing England internationals.

Neale said: “We are ambitious. I see this team eventually becoming semi-professional.

“There’s no reason why not. I think that’s the direction of travel for a lot of women’s sport. 

“In order to do that, there’s probably got to be some commercial friends out there that can help us with our journey. Whether that’s centrally through the RFL and TV deals, and already we’ve seen that the BBC has the Challenge Cup final and the international against France last week and Sky have got involved with Grand Finals. 

“There’s a lot of opportunities to secure a decent TV deal and hopefully we can get some top-end sponsors into the game at central level that can be filtered down to the clubs. But certainly from a Barrow Raiders perspective, we’re looking for a major sponsor to get on board.”

He continued: “Perhaps provide us with a level of funding and be a part of our journey to that semi-professionalism. Maybe in baby steps, but it will be great to get some sponsors on board. 

“I have some some ambitious targets way beyond what we were going at last year and the year before. Essentially, we are a community club but now we’re reaching high and hoping to attract some decent sponsors. 

“Hopefully we can get that level of commercial support that every club needs in order to grow in the direction we want to grow. For that right sponsor and right partner, there’s opportunities to join the board of directors.”

Steve Neale on producing England internationals

The ladies team, who are also currently recruiting for a new head coach for the 2022 campaign, enjoyed a successful season in 2021, including the Championship Grand Final in a defeat to Leigh Miners Rangers. 

Now, pre-season will reach new limits with Super League 2 beckoning. 

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Neale said: “We’ve got to Super League. It is Super League 2 and there’s an appreciation in the game that the top five or six clubs are a little bit ahead of the other six in Super League, but the standards are still there.

“Thinking initially for 2022, we certainly want to be competitive and giving these teams a good game. We also want to be winning our fair share and making these baby steps in building the club. 

“But I’ve set a timetable of where we want to be and how quickly. In 2022, we want to be very competitive. If we achieve a little bit more than that, that’s all well and good. 

“In 2023, I’m really looking to make a strong title challenge if you will from Super League 2 to Super League 1. If that comes a year early, then fantastic. I’m more than happy to wait a year for that, though. 

“Then in 2025, we want to be in Super League 1 challenging for the top honours of the game. You don’t get high by aiming low, so we’re aiming high. 

“Walking out at Wembley, walking out at Old Trafford, hoping that the women’s game is grown to the levels of double-headers with the men for Challenge Cup finals and Grand Finals, which I think is the direction of travel. 

“We want to be creating Barrow players as England internationals. There must be so much untapped talent throughout Cumbria. We are now Super League’s representative for Cumbria. There’s no reason why we can’t get this talent in our team. 

“No pressure on anyone, but we want to win Super League and a Challenge Cup by 2025. We want to have England internationals. Obviously, if it takes longer then so be it, but that’s where we want to be. I’d love to be a semi-professional club at that point and have sponsors coming out my ears. 

“I think we have a real opportunity with the girls and hopefully everyone will share my passion of where we want to go. We’ll go forwards with 2022 and pre-season training in a few weeks time!”

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