Justin Walley is a prime example of passion and dedication to the sport.
Experienced in coaching, management, marketing, development and volunteering in the sport, Justin has made a huge, positive impact on women’s football.
In 2007, Justin became co-founder of Riga United, a club that was originally set up as a 5-a-side kick-about team in 2001. By 2013, they successfully entered the men’s national league and the club now has two senior men’s teams in the Latvian League 2.
After receiving a message from a Norwegian girl who was inquiring as to whether Riga United had a ladies team, which at that point they didn’t, Justin suggested that they should organise a training session and see if there was any interest. Twenty players turned up and the team was born and just two and half years later they were crowned National Bronze Medallists! The development has not stopped there, Riga United now boasts a Ladies 1st team as well as U-16 and U-12 teams. Last season, Riga United Ladies Reserve team finished 7th in the Latvian second tier in their first season. On this remarkable work, Justin Walley said: “I am really proud of what we achieved. I think in women’s football we totally changed the culture of the game in Latvia as 60% of our squad were foreign girls from all over Europe with different ways of playing and thinking – the first foreign girls to ever play in Latvian women’s football. We also managed to get 200 watching one of our ladies games and got it televised!”
At the end of last season, Walley left the club, in which his role was Club Secretary, Marketing manager, Board Member, Ladies Head Coach and a player for the men’s team, to have a little rest before exploring new challenges. Justin Walley’s story is an inspirational one to say the least, with virtually no financial support and with a team where the players paid to play in the top league rather than being paid, they were able to make their dreams and visions into reality. By taking the courage and sacrifice to pursue his venture, he gave a huge amount of opportunities to aspiring female footballers, allowing them the environment to live out and pursue their dreams. To date, three Riga United Ladies players have represented Latvia at national team level, two of whom recently won the 2017 Aphrodite Cup with Latvia in Cyrpus. Others have represented their country at youth level.