A new club brings new challenges, but for summer signing Becky Barron, settling into the AFC Bournemouth Women’s team could not have been much easier.
She put pen-to-paper with the Cherries ahead of the 2020/21 season, as Steve Cuss’ side began their campaign with six straight wins.
Five of those victories all came in the FA Cup, as the Women made it into the first round proper of the competition for just the second time in history.
Due to the hectic cup schedule, an outstanding 11-0 win away at Oxford City is the only league game the side have faced so far, with a second Government lockdown putting a temporary stop to what was already shaping up to be an impressive season.
Barron has more than played her part, starting every competitive fixture for her new team to date, and spoke to afcb.co.uk about settling in Dorset.
“Everyone has been really welcoming,” she began.
“It doesn’t even feel like I’ve been here for two months, it feels like I’ve been here forever.
“The girls and coaches have been really nice. No one can do any more for you and, if you’ve got a problem, it’s sorted out straight away.
“On the pitch, it wasn’t too easy the first couple of games where we haven’t played with each other before but then there was just one game we had and it just clicked.
“We were getting into a good run, then we had to stop because of Covid, so I’m just looking forward to getting back into it.
“It was very frustrating because, in our last game, we played really well. We were really excited for the FA Cup draw and we wanted to carry on with the run that we had.”
Ahead of the season being suspended in November, Cuss’ side discovered that their first round opponents would be local rivals, Southampton.
With the game scheduled to be the first one back for the Cherries, taking place at Verwood Town next Sunday, Barron admitted that she can’t wait to get back to it and having a sense of normality resume.
“It will be an interesting game,” she continued.
“It might go back to when we first came and we might not click as well because we’ve had that break.
“But we’ve had a couple of training sessions and we have a few more before the game so I’m sure it’ll just click back into place as normal.
“I’m looking forward to getting back into training and playing football. It’s not the same not having and training or any matches.
“There’s not as much to look forward to on a weekend, especially with Covid and having to stay indoors.”
The FA Cup is certainly a competition that the central midfielder enjoys playing in, as she netted her first goal for the club September’s extra-preliminary round.
A 10-1 win over Eastleigh at the Silverlake Stadium set the side on their way in the competition, with Barron’s fine strike from 30-yards certainly catching the eye.
“It was a bit of a surprise, normally I’ll just pass it to someone else but I looked up and I thought that I might as well just have a go!
“Luckily, it went in but normally I’m not the one who goes up and attacks.
“I like to make sure no goals go in, but this season I’ve been pushing forward a bit more so hopefully I’ll get some more.
“There’s some games that I feel like I need to protect the back four and then other games I feel like I need to go forward because someone needs to help them.”
“I quite enjoy both roles though.”
With it being a stop-start season so far, Barron went on to discuss how she’s been staying fit over lockdown and the role that her job has played in helping her do so.
“I have a physical job so I can stay quite fit anyway because I’m a bricklayer.
“So physically, with things like gym work, I don’t really need to do but I’ve been on some runs.
“Me and Molly [Clark] have been doing some one-to-one sessions too, so hopefully I’m all alright for training.”
Barron went on to add that, aside from staying active both at work and at home, her experience of beach soccer also stands her in good stead on the fitness front.
She is one of three members of the squad, alongside fellow midfielder Clark and striker Gemma Hillier, that has represented Team GB in the sport, partaking at the World Beach Games in Doha last year.
“Physically, it’s more demanding but also less in a way,” she explained.
“It’s less heavy on your legs and not as much of a strenuous impact. You can recover from beach soccer games much quicker than grass games, so that’s helpful.
“There’s a lot of transferrable skills from grass to sand like the rotation throughout the pitch.
“If you understand the grass game, you can easily adapt to the beach soccer game but you can’t really get it until you’re on the sand.
“I watched the team play and train on sand for a year before I properly joined in and the first few sessions were tough because it’s a different fitness and a lot more short and sharp.
“In games, I normally just run and run, but in beach soccer you need to do smart running otherwise you’ll get tired.”
It’s not just the experiences of playing beach soccer that Barron can bring to the side, with her role at previous club Chichester City potentially proving pivotal to the Cherries, who are hopeful of promotion from the Southern Region Women’s Premier League this season.
In what is a tight-knit squad, the 31-year-old hopes to offload some her expertise in the game to some of the younger members.
“I used to play for Chichester when they were trying to get promoted from the league above.
“I was the captain of the team then and there were some young girls there, so hopefully that experience has been able to help me with the young girls here.
“They’ve got a lot of potential and they should do really well.”
For more information on how you can watch the Women in the FA Cup this weekend, just click here.
AFC Bournemouth Women are proudly supported by two local companies.
Thank you to Bournemouth University for being the front of shirt sponsor and thank you to Vitality for supporting our women’s and girls' setup.