TRIBUTES have been paid to one of the most influential women’s football figures in the region after she died earlier this month.

Anne Darwin, who formed Kinmel Bay Girls’ Football Club in 2002, was described as “the heartbeat of North Wales football” by brother Bill and died on August 6, leaving behind son Craig and daughter Jenny.

The Hawarden native was instrumental in the inception of the North Wales Girls’ Football League, becoming secretary and treasurer during a hugely successful first few seasons, and she also held the position of secretary for the North Wales Women’s Football League to further enhance her reputation within the sport.

Anne was coach and manager of the Kinmel Bay teams’ from U6 to women’s open age levels, completing various FAW coaching badges, her referee qualification and she also turned out for the Bay senior side at aged 50.

Bill Darwin, who is chairman of Kinmel Bay men’s football club in the Lock Stock Welsh Alliance, said: “Anne was a driver and would drive the minibus or her car to take the girls around North Wales to their away matches.

“She set up a disabled section for visually impaired players which helped this young disabled people to play and enjoy football. She would set up the goals and white line the football pitches which she was doing right up to two weeks of her passing away.”

Anne was born in Liverpool and attended Notre Dame Girls’ School. Upon leaving education she joined the Royal Air Force and spent time in Germany and Whitehall.

She was one of the key contributing factors in Kinmel Bay securing the Gold Accreditation Award from the FAW Trust during the 2010-2011 season, becoming the first club in Wales to receive the distinction for their “standard of quality coaching and safeguarding of players”.

Liverpool FC Legend Ian Rush spent a day at Kinmel Bay to present the award, and Anne also received recognition from Kinmel Bay and Towyn Town Council, who presented her with an award for her “work and contribution

towards the well-being of the children and community”.

During her busy schedule, Anne also find time to become involved with the Welsh Schools’ FA, assisting them to compete in competitive matches which aided their development considerably.

“Anne travelled throughout Wales promoting female football development for the past 16 years since 2002,” added Mr Darwin.

“She set up an organised and safe way for young people to take part and enjoy their football. Anne was the heartbeat of female football in North Wales and will be greatly missed.”

Her funeral is to be held at the Flintshire Memorial Park Crematorium in Northop Hall on Thursday, August 23 at 2pm.

The family says everyone that knew Anne is welcome to attend and this will be followed by a wake at the White Bear in Hawarden.