Tractor Girls boss ahead of Sunday's campaign curtain-raiser at Hounslow
It's been a busy summer for Town Women, being promoted to the third tier and seeing players turn professional for the first time in the Club's history.
Nine players have now penned professional deals ahead of the Women's National League Southern Premier Division beginining this weekend.
The Club website caught up with Tractor Girls manager, Joe Sheehan, ahead of Sunday afternoon's season opener away at Hounslow.
Read the full interview below:
Joe, you must be looking forward to your season starting on Sunday?
Very much so. It’s a new adventure for us in some ways; a new division, new opposition, new grounds to visit. It’s a new challenge for us and it’s one we’re very much looking forward to.
You begin away at Hounslow. Have you come across them before?
We haven’t. To be honest, we don’t really know too much about most of the teams in the division. We’ve played two or three of them in FA Cup fixtures but we’ve not come across many of them. It’s a new experience which is quite exciting in some ways and, as I said before, we’re very much looking forward to it.
That works both ways doesn’t it… opposition teams might not know too much about your team as well?
Yeah and I think that could play into our advantage in some ways. If I look back to the league we’ve just come out of a couple of years ago, we surprised a few teams. In the following year, teams knew what to expect and that made it more difficult in some ways. It could play into our advantage that most teams won’t know too much about us. Hopefully, we can make a really positive impact.
What is the aim for this season?
We haven’t really set an expectation on it. It was no secret that we needed to get out of the league that we were in last year. Now, we’ve got an opportunity to compete in the league above. We’re going to do the best we can. We’ll train as we hard as we can, we’ll prepare as best as we can and try to perform as best as we can. If that means winning enough games to finish at the top then it’s brilliant. If not, then so be it.
There's been a few changes behind the scenes as well...
It’s been exciting. We’ve changed quite a lot. We had a little bit of a changing of staff and obviously brought Paige [Shorten, first-team coach] back in. We’ve had a change of our training schedule and the contact time we have with players. There’s some really positive change and we’re hoping that positive change will impact and influence results on the pitch on a Sunday.
Nine full-time professionals; that’s a big deal for the Club isn’t it?
It is. We knew we had a lot of interest in our players and we knew we had a lot of international players. We knew they were assets to us and an important part of the journey we were on. It’s great that we were able to not just keep them on board, but to be able to pay them as well. That’s been a great step for us. It’s been a really exciting period.
The players get paid and the Club won’t lose a talented player for free...
In the top two divisions with the Sky money, there’s going to be some really big transfers that will start to happen over the next year or two. They’ve started to take place already with Lauren James moving from Manchester United to Chelsea. It means that there is going to be some money floating about. We never want to prevent opportunities for our players to move up but we are protected in some ways now.
It’s a big year for women’s football with Women’s Euro 2022 being hosted in England…
It is and that will only increase the reputation of the game. There’s a lot that’s going on that’s really exciting and we’re progressing at a really exciting time.
Fans are back this season. How important is it that you continue to grow on that side of things, too?
The pandemic hit us at quite a difficult time because we were just starting to build a network and a fanbase of people who were really invested in what we were doing. Obviously, people were then not able to come so we weren’t able to continue riding that wave. We’ve still got a really good core group of supporters. We just want to ensure that we can keep growing that, keep entertaining and keep inspiring future generations of girls who want to follow Ipswich Town. Hopefully, our attendances and the people who support us will continue to grow.
A new division and professional players; it feels like the perfect time to give watching your side a go for a supporter who hasn’t previously…
Absolutely. The quality is increasing and improving all the time. We’ve got some talented players who are young, ambitious and exciting to watch. It’s a great time to be part of the Football Club and support the Club across the men’s and the women’s teams.
Town Women play their home fixtures at the Goldstar Ground in Felixstowe.