Final thoughts & preparations.
"I think the fact that the club is so inclusive and has a true one club philosophy..."
By Eloise Martin
Ahead of the new season we caught up with James Fishlock who joins the women's side as the interim manager from Cardiff City Ladies while our manager Fern Burrage-Male takes maternity leave. Pontypridd United Women kick off their season in a weeks’ time against Cardiff City on the 4th September.
How have you settled into the team so far?
I’ve settled in really well, the players, staff and committee have been really welcoming. I feel part of the team already and it’s been good to get to know some of the players and catch up with the players I already know.
What appealed to you about Pontypridd United?
I think the fact that the club is so inclusive and has a true one club philosophy with a desire to develop and improve, that was a really strong selling point for me. The club are in the top women’s league in Wales so that was a big draw too. I still have a big desire to challenge myself as a coach and the opportunity to work with this group of players, and hopefully improve them, was also a huge attraction to me.
How do you think the first few sessions have gone so far and what is the team morale like?
The sessions have been good, the girls have worked really hard, asked good questions and the level of understanding has been really impressive. Fitness levels are improving and the quality on the ball has improved session on session. They are a really close group, they all get on really well together and it’s clear that the team spirit is excellent.
What are your main objectives leading into the beginning of the season?
My objectives are to be as well prepared as possible and to start the season well. We’ve got a lot of hard work ahead of us to do that but I’m confident we will do it. We want to close the gap on the teams that finished above us last season of course and continue to develop the club both on and off the pitch.
What about the new signings, what have they brought to the squad so far?
The new players have been great, they’ve fitted in straight away and have added real quality and experience. It’s always good to have new voices within the group, so we couldn’t be happier with them all. Recruitment is an area we want to be strong in, but we have to make sure that we bring the right players and staff in. We want to make sure we add value on and off the pitch. More importantly we’ve been able to retain the majority of the group from last season so there’s not going to be a huge turnover of players, which is a really positive sign for us going forward.
How is training, does it feel like the squad is gelling well now?
Training has been excellent since I took over, the application from the players has been really good and we’ve been able to work on lots of different aspects of our game. The girls are an extremely close group and the new players and staff have fitted in really well.
Tell me about the pre-season games you've played (what has gone well? What needs improving? And what have you learnt about this squad?)
The pre-season games so far have been good and have given us lots of things to take away and work on, which is what you want. The weather played a big part and certainly when we look back, our fitness levels were really good, considering the extreme heat during those games. We’ve done some good things during the games and some not so good things also but that’s why you play pre-season games.
Our first game is against Cardiff City away on the 4th September obviously a tough opposition, how are you feeling about that game?
It’s an exciting first game for us all. We’re aware of the challenges Cardiff City will pose to us and everyone else in the league, I’d say they’re favorites for the title this season. But for us, we focus on our game plan, and we look to implement that on the day.