AFC Bournemouth Women have been speaking to BBC South Today about a charity challenge that they’re undertaking throughout February.
Steve Cuss’ side, who have played a total of six competitive matches since the start of September, have seen fixtures halted for a third time this season, but they’re still putting their time to good use and raising money for the EFL’s principle charity, Mind.
Mind provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem, while campaigning to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding.
In order to raise money for such a worthy organisation, which has already helped thousands in the UK throughout lockdown, the squad are aiming to cover 5,000km throughout February either by running or cycling.
Now over halfway and with the target in sight, they were keen to share their story, with manager Cuss also quick to praise the lengths his squad are going to.
“I’m exceptionally proud of them all,” he began.
“It was Katelyn Wort’s idea to set up the challenge and the buy in from the whole squad has been tremendous. I know they’ve been encouraging each other right throughout the month.
“It’s been difficult with the weather and it has made it even harder, but they’ve been helping each other through and they’re raising money for a great charity as well, so I’m really proud of them.
“There’s no doubt we’re missing being together and we don’t have that matchday buzz where we all come together and try to win a game on a Sunday.
“I think the challenge has, in a small way, substituted the matchday. It allows them all to come together, talk about what they’ve achieved during the day, motivate each other and I think that’s been a huge factor for their mental health as well as their physical health.
“We set them some fitness sessions in the early part of lockdown, so throughout February we haven’t had to do that!
“They’re out there working extremely hard, so when they do return I’m sure they’ll be in a really good position to go and play again.”
Speaking to BBC South Today in a televised feature on Friday, midfielder Larissa White went into detail about the positives that are coming out of the challenge and admitted how beneficial it has been for the squad.
“We see each other three times a week, so going from seeing each other three times a week to nothing is really hard. We have such a tight bond with each other.
“The challenge gives you motivation to get up in the morning and actually do something because you know you’re helping people out by raising money for charity.
“Before Katelyn even put the challenge out, I was de-motivated to do any exercise but now I’ve got a reason to get on a bike and get out.”
Summer signing, Gemma Hiller, also commented and expressed how difficult it had been to gather any momentum this season.
“We were having a good season – we got further in the FA Cup than the club ever has before. We also won our only league game by quite a considerable amount.
“We’ve tried to work really hard on our fitness during the lockdown but there’s just nothing like playing.
“People had lost a little bit of motivation, so Katelyn suggested doing a challenge and it’s given us something to focus on.”
If you would like to sponsor our Women’s team in their charity challenge for Mind, 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.