AFC Bournemouth Women’s striker Rebecca Miles can’t wait to be back playing with her teammates after a disrupted 12 months.
With Steve Cuss’ side top of the Southern Region Women’s Premier League in March, it was a bitter pill to swallow when the season was declared null and void four weeks later.
Having got back into a routine as the 2020/21 season kicked-off in September, the Cherries find themselves having played just six times since, with five of those games coming in the FA Cup and only the one league fixture.
Speaking with afcb.co.uk, Miles expressed just how hard it has been for her and her team-mates over the last year.
“It’s been difficult because it’s been very stop-start,” she began.
“From last season, we had the disappointment of it being voided with us being in a really strong position, so we got ourselves back into it and got ourselves going again.
“We’ve only had one league game since, but we did have a really good run in the FA Cup which was fantastic for us – it gave us a lot of confidence and boosted the morale of the girls.
“In the end, we came up against a good Southampton team and they played very well and were the better side on the day, but it’s been frustrating with it all being so stop-start.
“One minute, you’re playing regularly and training every week with a good run of games, then unfortunately we went back into a national lockdown which was difficult.
“We also had the season halted with the tier system, as we had a few players that weren’t able to travel because they were in tier 4 so even training over Christmas was a little bit weird as we were low on numbers.
“It’s tough because the girls can’t really see each other. We have a WhatsApp group so we can still keep in contact, but it’s still difficult.”
With the Women’s team having played just twice since the start of November, the forward went on to explain how she keeps herself motivated through such uncertain times both on and off the pitch.
“I think people motivate themselves in different ways.
“For me, I got a puppy just before the second lockdown, so I keep myself busy with him.
“It means I can go out with him on walks and if I run he’ll come with me.
“I think the big thing for me is that I try and get myself in a routine. I know normally that I would train on a Monday and a Wednesday, and we would normally do something to keep us ticking over on a Friday.
“So I try and keep myself in that routine so that nothing’s really changed.
“Walking that dog gives you that little bit extra and something different, especially continuing to work full-time. It helps keep yourself motivated when you’re not even leaving the house for work.”
With no return date in sight, Miles is optimistic that the Cherries can get back on the pitch sooner rather than later.
However, the 29-year-old believes the importance of the squad staying fit is greater than ever given that their season will be guided by both Government and FA guidelines, which could change in an instant.
“It really is just as important to keep fit even if we’re not playing,” Miles continued.
“You just never know when we’re going to go back.
“It’s good that we can keep going out for exercise because, if we weren’t even able to do that, I think people would find it a lot more difficult.
“We could go back sooner than we think, but then something might change and it could still be a while before we even train, so it’s just as important to keep ourselves fit and healthy.
“We don’t know when we’ll be playing again, but we want to be fit going into the season to put ourselves in that strong position again.”
Miles concluded by adding how much the game means to her and admitted that she can’t wait to be back playing whenever that might be.
“With football, it’s something we look forward to.
“It gives some of us a break from work and others a break from college, so it’s very difficult not having a time-frame or a date to work towards.
“If we can keep ourselves going now, we will be in a really strong position when we’re back.”
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.