It only seems like yesterday when the season ended and the Ladies went on tour to Southport that we are back and preparing for beginning of the new 2017-2018 season. After a successful tour to Southport at the end of May, the Ladies (and management) had a well-deserved break from football to recover and recuperate from the niggling injuries that plagued the team during last season.
Although the team held light summer training sessions in the closed season for those wanting to continue, pre-season began in earnest at the end of July when we welcomed back old familiar faces and introduced new players to strengthen our team.
A few changes were made from last season as to the running of the team, most noticeably introducing a fitness programme for the players. A few groans that “fitness” was to be part of the programme but after the first couple of sessions, the Ladies have really taken to improving their all-round fitness levels and the benefits can be seen. “Fitness” will be part of the team training session held each Wednesday. Training has also increased from one hour to one and half hours to accommodate the changes.
With the season a month away, we needed to schedule some pre-season friendlies to ensure match fitness was raised in readiness for the first game on September 10th. Our friends from St Albans Ladies First Team hosted our first pre-season friendly and this was a good run out for the new inexperienced players stepping up from youth to Adult level. Purpose of the match from a Belles perspective was the players getting to know each other, raising our fitness levels and trying to play controlled, disciplined football. Objectives achieved over the course of the match with take-away for the players to review their own performances for the next match.
Three days after St Albans, we hosted a new team to join our League: Northwood Ladies. Another good side who, like the Belles, try and play football.
A really good, competitive match whereby communication from the Belles was significantly improved from that of St Albans. Both sides played some really good controlled football with match fitness improving for the Belles. Objectives for the team in this match were to not lose possession in our own half and to keep structure when out of possession. Again the Ladies worked hard to keep to ensure these objectives were met and successfully did so. A real positive was the performances of the younger players who have really integrated into the team and are starting to show their potential.
The bank holiday weekend has now passed and we now face our regular pre-season friendly against Sherrardswood Ladies on 30th August. A team who are always in the top half of the Division 1 table and a side who always provide a stern test.
An update on the match and that of another friendly, this time against Welwyn Pegasus (Azures) on September 3rd will be in the next instalment before our first League match
Updated 14:04 - 1 Sep 2017 by Paul Dean