Yeovil Town Ladies manager Jamie Sherwood has said that he wants the dream of FAWSL1 football to stay as a reality, as his side battles both on and off the field to preserve that status. The club have just started their first full season at that level, and host Sunderland Ladies at Huish Park tomorrow (kick-off 2.00p.m.) with a Ladies fans and media forum being held immediately after the game.
The Ladies plan to discuss the Football Association plans to restructure the women's side of the game, including the incorporation of full time football in the top flight, and the need for every club to set up an Academy if they want to play at FAWSL1 level next season. Sherwood says he understands why the FA are making such a change, but adds that will have an effect on the aspirations of any club that sits in the divisions below that, with the danger of a closed shop developing. He says he's tried to see both sides:
"There's two ways of looking at it. You have to take the emotion out of it from a Yeovil perspective. For the Women's game and England and for England to be the best team that they can be, then it makes sense. But when you put the emotion into it and you think of teams like Yeovil, Bristol and other teams that are in the WSL then there's a little bit more of a different feeling about it. For us as a club, we know what we set out on this road to do, and that's to establish ourselves as a WSL1 club. Football is about aspirations and ambitions and winning your way through. You want to win promotion and be in the highest league possible. So it doesn't matter if you're in the Conference, you have that dream to go through into the Premier League. We were in WSL2 and we had that dream to be in WSL1. We worked hard to achieve it, and we'll work even harder to make sure that stays a reality for ourselves."
After the Sunderland game, the Ladies plan to hold their Fans and Media Forum at around 4.00p.m. in the Alec Stock Lounge, with all those who hold a matchday ticket invited to attend. Sherwood said that the club's overall ambition was still to play at the top level, and explained how things would unfold after the game:
"We'll get everyone into the ground, and speak to them and make sure that everyone sees the plans for Yeovil Town Ladies Football Club, both in the short term and in the long term. I think that the timescales that the FA have set is maybe the bigger problem. But I think the reality for every club like Yeovil, since the day I walked into the club, was to achieve promotion and get ourselves into WSL1. Now we're here we want to establish ourselves. The aspiration has always been for us to be a full time club. We've taken great steps this season to be in an even closer position. So hopefully throughout the coming weeks and coming months, we can make sure that does become our reality, and that we are a WSL1 club come 2018-19."
Advance tickets for the match against Sunderland can be purchased here. The Ladies are asking for a 'pack the park' mentality for tomorrow's fixture - one of the FAWSL1 licence clauses for next season is for clubs to have firm targets for attendances at their games, to ensure that they can be as self-sufficient as possible, and with the female Glovers having been one of the best attended clubs in the country, this is likely to be one of their strengths. Turnstiles will be open from 12.30p.m. for the 2.00p.m. kick-off. The after match event is to begin from 4.00p.m. after the full-time whistle.
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