HARTLEY Wintney FC has announced the appointment of a female coach for their men's team in a landmark move.

The club named Aym'e Melham as a first-team coach and player welfare officer.

The announcement follows EFL League Two team Forest Green Rovers' appointment of Hannah Dingley as their manager.

Born in New Zealand, Aym'e moved to Australia where her football journey began seven years ago, playing semi-pro, before embarking on a fast-track level 1 & 2 coaching programme run by an ex-Matildas player in Sydney.

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That led to her first football management role when she joined her local men's Saturday league club, Cooks River Titans.

Aym'e then took the opportunity to become head coach and vice president at Mr P FC, where as manager she went on to take the men’s team from division 3 through to division 1 in consecutive seasons.

While at the club she completed her level C licence and was awarded a B licence scholarship. Unfortunately, Covid put those plans on hold, and she relocated with her family to the UK during lockdown.

Aym'e has spent two seasons with Hungerford Town, gaining valuable experience as a trainee manager/coach.

Before joining Hungerford, she spent the early part of 2021-22 season shadowing the coaching team with Dan Brownlie at Basingstoke Town.

Aym'e said: "I couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity to work within this great club under the guidance of Rowan Vine and Anthony Millerick. I'm incredibly passionate about player well-being as a whole, and how that feeds into performing at a high level in football. I was heavily involved with Mr P FC’s sister arm, which is a men’s mental health charity committed to the mental well-being of men."

A Hartley Wintney FC spokesperson said: "It is unusual and refreshing to see a female coach in the adult men's game. We may be in the age of equal opportunity for all, but slogans don't automatically make it happen. Acceptance can be a slow process, but Aym'e's determination to succeed - along with her vocational background and experience - has brought her a long way in what is traditionally a male dominated sporting environment.

"Aym'e has a vision of coaching which goes beyond the usual physical conditioning aspects, hence the 'player welfare officer' in her title."

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First team manager, Rowan Vine, welcomed her to the club, and said: "Aym'e brings an approach to coaching which will add to the traditional side of what a football coach does.

"Issues on and off the pitch can affect how a player performs. As well as encouraging players to develop a winning mentality, helping them to handle distractions can really help their focus on match days, so they can enjoy playing, and that improves their game.

"It's unusual, outside of the professional game, to have someone with Aym'e skills, and I'm really pleased to have her as part of my coaching team this season."