Worthing FC caught up with the newly appointed Women's manager Michelle Lawrence and asked her what she expects from this season and the ambitions for the team going forward.
WFC: Michelle, thanks for taking the time to talk to us.
What tempted you to get involved at Worthing for this season?
ML: I actually had no desire to return to football but when asked to consider the women’s manager’s position by [captain] Hannah Hewlett, her enthusiasm for the club was so infectious that I soon began to imagine myself in the role.
WFC: How do you feel the facilities compare with other clubs around this area?
ML: The facilities at Woodside Road certainly impressed but it’s about more than bricks and mortar for me. When you walk through the gates, you get a real sense of pride and it’s that feeling that I hope to instil in the players as we progress through the season.
WFC: Having worked at a higher level for a lot of your career, what experience do you think you will bring to this team?
ML: My commitment to the Women’s game is unwavering and I will work tirelessly to ensure the players have every opportunity to succeed. It has been important to make realistic demands of the players but those that were here last season will have seen a noticeable change in expectations, and I hope professionalism. Of course I want to create a fun and challenging learning environment but the club are clear in their ambitions for their women’s team, and I hope the players will relish the challenges that lie ahead.
WFC: What effect do you think the World Cup will have on women’s football in the short and long term?
ML: There is an opportunity in the short-term to build on the interest generated in the game as a result of the Women’s World Cup. More people will want to play and watch the game. There is a chance also to engage with stakeholders that would not ordinarily have been interested in women’s football. Unfortunately for us, by the time the season starts in September, it’s possible the euphoria will have settled and people may have returned to their normal habits so we will need to find a way to re-ignite their interest. The women’s game is on an upwards trajectory and I see interest in the game continuing to grow; the challenge for the club is balancing the demands of all its teams but there is definitely the will [and potential] to expand the women’s programme. The game is the easy part; operationally, we need to be ready to capitalise on the opportunities that will undoubtedly present themselves.
WFC: Do you think that having contacts at a higher level will help across the season?
ML: I have certainly utilised my contacts in these early stages as I look to re-familiarise myself with the game at a local level but reputation won’t count for much if I don’t bring success to the club.
WFC: Where do you see the team being in 5 years-time and is there a plan to get to the level you want to?
ML: Worthing Women (formerly Ladies) were only formed three-years ago but there is no reason why the team should not aspire to be playing in the FA Women’s National League Southern Division within five-years but much work has to be done behind the scenes to develop the infrastructure to support progression through the leagues.
WFC: What are your aims and hopes for this season?
ML: I have been really impressed with the quality on show during preseason but until the League fixtures get underway, it’s hard to know how this group will do. If effort and hard work transmits to results, I would like to think we can challenge for promotion, and [if the cup draws are favourable] enjoy a cup run. Success though will not simply be based on results – although that’s what I will be judged on I am sure. I am keen to recruit more volunteers, grow spectator numbers, increase sponsorship and develop a programme of activity that harnesses our relationship within the local community. Worthing Football Club has such potential, and if I can play some part in helping them to realise that potential, I will be happy!
Our thanks to Michelle for taking the time to talk to us and good luck for the season.
Women’s upcoming fixtures: Click Here