New Forest Green Rovers head of academy Hannah Dingley insists her appointment is not a token gesture and plans to ensure manager Mark Cooper looks at academy players before looking elsewhere. 

Rovers confirmed Dingley as the first female to ever head a men's football academy on Thursday. 

Dingley believes she is a great fit for Forest Green. She also feels the appointment of a female head of academy has been overdue. 

"I am proud," she said. "I suppose it's been a long time coming and I think, and I'm sure Dale will support this, I was appointed because I was the best person for the role, the most qualified, the most experienced and the best fit for the football club so it's not a tokenistic gesture. 

"I'm qualified and experienced and in a good position to take the academy forward." 

Dingley's plan for the academy is a simple one - to produce first team players. 

She has been impressed with manager Mark Cooper, who likes working with a young squad, and wants the Rovers boss to use the academy as his first port of call. 

"We're lucky to have a first team manager who wants to play young players," she said. 

"That puts us under a bit of pressure because we need to develop players who are good enough to go into Mark's first team. 

"Mark's fantastic, we had a great chat and he's really helpful. 

"He buys into the academy and he wants to help the staff as well as the players because ultimately we've all got the same goal of getting players out on that first team pitch."