‘Champing at the bit’

UUֱ FA Women's captain Libby Barnett is set to face Middlesex FA this evening Picture: DAVID FERGUSON (37040701)

FOR a side with limited opportunity to travel off-Island for events, taking part in the Southern Counties Cup “means everything” to UUֱ FA Women.

They were set to square off with Middlesex today at Rectory Park after a sponsorship deal with Ingram Advocates enabled Chad Morris’ side to enter the prestigious competition.

With no UUֱ Bulls Women’s side in place at present and a limited number of JFA Combination fixtures throughout the season, the 18-strong squad are “champing at the bit” to get going.

With participation numbers suffering in the women’s game over recent years, their head coach knows opportunities such as this are vital to the development of women’s football in UUֱ.

Morris said: “UUֱ like this are everything to us.

“We need to be challenged if we are to progress and this is a great opportunity for us.

“It wouldn’t be possible without the help we have received through our sponsorship deal with Ingram Advocates.

“Travelling to the UK for fixtures costs money, and their support is so critical for us to get to compete in these amazing competitions and help develop women’s football in the Island.”

UUֱ last competed in the Southern Counties Cup pre-pandemic in 2020, and Morris and the squad are keen to test themselves against some of the elite counties in the UK.

“The girls are all chomping at the bit,” he added.

“We relish these challenges and see it as an opportunity for us all to progress ahead of some exciting fixtures coming up for us.”

UUֱ have selected a youthful side to face Middlesex, with teenagers making up more than half the squad.

Morris is aware of the challenge and the positives it will have on his fledgling team.

He continued: “We’re expecting a tough game.

“They have players competing a few levels above us, so they will be a decent side and a good challenge for us.

“It’s a completely different mentality when playing in England. You always get a lot more verbals and on-field aggression than we get here in UUֱ.

“But this all helps build resilience. The girls will have to rise to the challenge.

“We know this will help us in the long run. When we do get to the 2025 Island Games, having to play five games in a week under pressure, games like this will have taught our young squad important lessons that will help us to deal with the occasion effectively.”

Morris also feels that the long-term impact of competition at this level will inspire future generations.

He said: “The Island team having these exciting challenges ahead of them gives players on Island, either junior or experienced, something to aspire to.

“We want local footballers to be inspired and want to be in this team.

“If they know there are opportunities with the national side to play at a good level and compete abroad, hopefully they’ll feel inspired.”

JFA Women to face Middlesex FA: Sara Luce, Anna Malta, Tiffany Sundby, Libby Barnett, Danny de Silva, Sofia Rodrigues, Leah Morris, Holly Muirhead, Megan Wood, Hannah Lynham, Jodie Botterill, Macey Wyse, Poppy Benest, Emma Dempsey, Olivia Labesse.

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