Chichester Ladies FC, newly promoted to the FA WPL Southern Division, will line up on Sunday against FA WSL1 team Liverpool Ladies. for a place in the Quarter Finals of the SSE Women’s FA Cup. Not only are Liverpool two leagues above Chichester but they currently sit in 4th place in the league. However, the beauty of the FA Cup is that it is a leveller, a one-off game, winner takes all and Chichester has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
I was lucky enough yesterday afternoon to have the opportunity to chat with Matt Wright, Chichester Ladies Manager and Emma Alexandre Club Captain.
Matt is a sports lecturer at Chichester College where part of his responsibility is running the Chichester College Female Football Academy. Matt is assisted with coaching at the college by Emma who, as well as playing for Chichester Ladies, has a coaching degree.
Here is our conversation:
4tlos: How excited are both the players and the club as a whole at the prospect of playing Liverpool?
Emma: There is a real buzz around the club at this massive opportunity – this is the FA Cup, the biggest competition in the world, so yes we are really excited.
4tlos: Can you cause an upset?
Emma: We have shown in earlier rounds that with pride and passion we can do really well. This is a huge opportunity for us.
4tlos: Is this the furthest the club has got in the competition?
Matt: It’s the furthest in the ten years that I have been involved with the club, but I think that many years ago we did progress to the quarter finals.
4tlos: Have you prepared as normal for this game or have you done things differently and have you worked on a game plan.
Matt: We go into every game with the intention of winning and we train accordingly. The preparation is similar, the girls work really hard every week, we have a game plan for every game and always prepare and adapt to whoever we are playing.
I am really proud that the girls always train at 100%.
4tlos: Will home support help?
Emma: Definitely. The cup run has been incredible, it has brought everything from red cards to penalty shoot outs and the Club and local community has really got behind us. It’s amazing how far we can go when we push ourselves.
Matt: We have arranged that all our other teams have their matches postponed so the whole club can be there to support, it is a really important occasion for all of us.
4tlos: Has the Cup run boosted interest in the Club?
Matt: The community has shown a huge level of support, it’s great to see the women’s side being brought to so many people’s attention. We run a Saturday morning club at Chichester College for girls aged 6-14 so hopefully games like this will inspire the next generation to get involved in the sport.
4tlos: With five youth teams as well as the senior side, how many girls do you have involved?
Matt: That’s difficult to answer exactly, if you count just the teams that we have it’s in the region of 200 but if you include the primary school festivals that we run then the number of girls playing football rises to between 1200/1500 a year.
We also have now the Academy with youngsters between 16 and 19 years of age and these students help coach the younger girls.
4tlos: Going forward?
Emma: Obviously we hope to get into the WSL. This is our first season in the FA WPL Southern Division and we have exceeded people’s expectations. We have great passion and together we can achieve great things.
Matt: I’ve been at the Club for ten years now and I’ve said that I will stay as long as the Club is moving forward, and it is every day. We have always modelled ourselves on the teams in the league above and we are doing that now and gradually moving away from being a community club towards a professional club. We prepare now so we are ready in the future and we are progressing massively.
Chichester are offering great opportunities for girls to get involved in football. 6-13 year olds can take part in the Saturday morning training sessions between 10:00-11:30, at Chichester College.
Training takes place for 14-16 year olds on Wednesday evenings, 18:30 – 19:30, at Chichester College.
More information can be found on the youth side of Chichester Ladies FC here.
For girls looking to continue in Further Education whilst playing football opportunities are available at the Chichester College Football Academy for more information please contact Matt Wright at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Can they cause an upset? If you are free on Sunday, get yourselves along to Oaklands Park at 2pm to find out!
It was a pleasure to speak with both Matt and Emma yesterday; we were hugely impressed with their enthusiasm and passion and wish them every success on Sunday and for the rest of the season and look forward to following their progress.
The SSE Women’s FA Cup Final will take place at Wembley Stadium connected by EE on Saturday 5 May, 2018. Kids go free and tickets available on www.thefa.com/tickets
Lead photo shows Matt Wright and Emma Alexandre with the FA Cup