A new league, bigger crowds and an unbeaten start to the season.
Life in the National League has begun well for AFC Bournemouth Women, who find themselves playing in step four of the pyramid after their application for upward movement was successful back in May.
With crowds of 250 turning up at Potterne Park on a regular basis, Steve Cuss’ team have seen the benefits of having home support, with 11 goals scored in just four fixtures at Verwood Town's ground.
A key member of the squad, who’s barely missed a minute for the Cherries, is Emma Davis. The left-back is currently enjoying her seventh season with the side, having risen up the leagues with the club.
She sat down with afcb.co.uk to discuss the opening set of fixtures and how the squad have adapted to playing in a new league.
“It’s been a really good start,” Davis began.
“Initially, we had some draws but then we found our stride and got some wins after that.
“I think it probably took us a little bit of time to get into it and get to understand the league and the changes. Now we’re unbeaten and it’s actually been a really good start for us.
“There’s definitely been a change and a step up from the league we were in before and it’s definitely more physical the league that we’re in now.
“There’s a lot more quality but we just have to adjust ourselves with how we play against each team.
“It’s certainly been a challenge but a really good one!”
With five new faces joining the Cherries this summer, the squad has certainly been strengthened.
However, it’s not just on the pitch where the new additions are having an impact, with a host of under-16s stepping up and thriving under the experience of others.
“Everyone has settled in really well.
“There’s a good dynamic within the team and it’s been great to have the experience of the other players in our team.
“A lot of the girls have come from teams higher up the leagues, so that’s really helped especially with the younger players who have stepped up from the under-16s.
“I think it’s quite good because there’s been a lot of versatility between players because of the different experience and exposure that people have had to the game.”
This weekend’s game sees the side take on Kent United in the National League Cup, having beaten Hounslow from the division above by a single goal in the first round.
It’ll be the first meeting between the two teams and Davis, known as Bambi to her team-mates, is relishing the challenge and hoping for more strong support at Verwood.
“It’s always great to play cup games and it gives us a little break from the league,” she continued.
“It’s also nice to play teams that we aren’t used to playing or teams who have different standards in their own league.
“It’s also a good opportunity to try and test our football against these teams we’re not familiar with.
“There’s definitely a lot more interest and I think the media coverage that we get from the club definitely helps in promoting the women’s game.”
Davis went on to discuss the difference it makes having the support from Cherries fans week-in week-out, with crowd numbers climbing with every game.
“There’s been lots of interest in our play now we’ve gone up a league and I think because we’ve got some new players in, that’s also meant that more people are coming to the game.
“I think when you look at the sideline, it’s nice because there’s lots of different ages from young girls to perhaps more elderly people.
“It goes to show that the women’s game can be for everyone and it’s very inclusive.
“I’ve had my little niece there and she loves it – although she does try and run on the pitch sometimes which isn’t ideal!”
Come and watch the women’s team take on Kent United in the National League Cup this weekend. Kick-off at Verwood Town’s Potterne Park is 2pm and entry is free.
Thank you for your support
Bournemouth University for being our main girls and women's team sponsor, and iPRO and Vitality for supporting the womens' programme.