AFC Bournemouth Women’s player, Charlotte Eastman, has had her fair share of injuries since joining the club in 2018, but she’s more determined than ever to kickstart her Cherries career.
Achillies problems, which started when she was playing football at university in America, have persisted, while a back injury also prevented her from stepping out onto the pitch for regular game time in red and black.
For someone who had spent the best part of ten years injury free, and hadn’t ever had to endure a spell on the sidelines, it’s been an extremely challenging period for Eastman, who is keen to kick on following the team’s promotion to the National League.
She begins by talking through the last couple of years and how, by finally being fit and featuring in the Subsidiary Cup back in May, there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“I’ve just been trying to get fit and eventually try and play for Steve (Cuss) because I haven’t actually played for him. It’ll be nice this year if I can get fit, get rid of injuries and actually play.
“Steve always used to come and watch our games when the old manager was there then, when he came in and took charge, I was really excited to play, but I just couldn’t do it. I’m so determined this year, especially going up a league to actually be able to play.
“It was nice to have that tournament at the end of last season when I was nearing fitness just so I could play really.
“I just wanted to show Steve that I’m not giving up and show him what I can do. Hopefully I can carry that on into pre-season.
“I can’t wait to be a part of it next year. We’ll be in in pre-season training soon and everyone will be together. We’re also going to be training more, so we’ll see each other more and hopefully we won’t be stopped because of Covid.
“I can’t wait to get going and start preparing for the league above.”
With the women’s application for a process of upward movement being approved by the FA last week, it means they will compete in step four of the football pyramid for the 2021/22 campaign.
However, this is familiar territory for Eastman, who played for Poole Town in the National League four years ago, and she knows all too well the standard that is required to compete at that level.
“I played one season with Poole in the league we’re going into,” she continued.
“The standard of the league is so much better and every week it’ll be a really hard game. Having said that, with the team we’ve got, and if we get any new players, I think we can smash it.
“It’s the league we need to be in because the standard that we play to is more suited at that level than the one we were playing in before.
“It’ll be a really good challenge, especially for players who haven’t played at that level yet. They’ll be able to see the standard we need to be at to compete and the fitness we need to keep up with other teams in that league.”
Keeping fit is something the squad are well drilled on, with a national lockdown halting proceedings to a league season that never really got going.
With the side uncertain on whether fixtures would be completed, it was essential to stay fit during the early part of the year in case a return to action eventually came about.
With the new campaign nearing and the centre-back having been out for so long, she admitted that pre-season, and all the running that comes with it, is actually something she’s looking forward to.
“Everyone kept quite fit throughout Covid, so hopefully it’ll be the same again.
“When we came back to training at the end of March, Steve was making us run a lot at first but, because we were relatively fit, we were able to get back on the balls and playing football relatively quickly.
“Pre-season, even though you have to run, it’s fun anyway and I am really excited for it. We definitely needed a break, but it’ll be great to get back to it.”
As the squad prepare to return to the training pitches next month, Eastman concluded by discussing her goals and ambitions for the next 12 months.
“Hopefully I can just be fit,” she said.
“I don’t want to be injured. I want to get a solid position in the team where I can play every week and help them properly, as opposed to float in and out whenever I can.
“Everyone has been really good with me and a few of the girls messaged me to say how much they want me fit and want me to play next season.
“It’s great that they are so keen for me to play even though I’ve always been dragging along at the back and trying to get fit. It’s nice to have everyone wanting me to play after some time.
“I absolutely hate sitting out injured. I’ve been playing football since I was eight and I’ve never really had to sit on the sidelines until the last couple of years.
“When you get injured, it’s so frustrating because you want to be out there, but you can’t physically do anything!
“Fingers crossed this year will be different.”
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.