AFC Bournemouth Women have played a total of six fixtures and had training halted for the third time in five months and, given that it’s almost February, it would be easy for the squad to lose motivation and have their heads down.
But Steve Cuss’ side are determined to make the best out of a bad situation, putting their spare time to good use next month with a remarkable charity challenge.
The squad are aiming to run and cycle 5,000 kilometres over the next 28 days, with the aim of raising money for the EFL’s principle charity partner, Mind.
Mind aim to provide advice and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem, while also campaigning to improve services, raise awareness and promote understanding of mental health around the world.
With so many people facing difficulties during the Coronavirus pandemic, the Women’s team could think of no better cause to support during such uncertain times.
Ahead of the challenge, afcb.co.uk caught up with 18-year-old centre-back, Katelyn Wort, who has had her own struggles over the last year.
She began by explaining a little more about what the squad will be doing: “We wanted to do something a bit different for lots of reasons.
“A lot of us cycle and we can keep doing that throughout lockdown, so we initially thought about doing something along those lines.
“Then we realised that some people don’t have bikes, so we thought about combining running and cycling and, before we knew it, we had set ourselves the target of covering 5,000 kilometres across the month.
“For myself, I think I’m going to try to do 600 kilometres on my bike and then some of the ones who are running are hoping to do about 50 miles each. Overall, that will hopefully add up to the whole total.
“We’ve all joined a group on an app to record our progress and we can see what each other is doing on there too. We’re all taking photos when we do it and we’ll make a little video out of it afterwards.
“Some of the ones that live in Bournemouth might be able to pair up and do a run or cycle together as you can still exercise with one other person. I might do a couple with Larissa [White] but no-one else lives that close to me!”
Having been affected by the lockdown in November, the tier system in December and now the tighter restrictions of a third lockdown in January, it’s no surprise that the squad are looking for new ways to keep their fitness up.
With just one league game played so far this season, Wort explained how hard it has been to stay motivated and what she hopes to get out of the challenge.
“What’s really good is that it means everyone can be involved no matter where they’re based and we can all keep our fitness levels up.
“We’ll hopefully be able to see that benefit with our fitness when we get back onto the pitch whenever that might be.
“I feel like everyone knows that we’re in it together and as a team we’ve probably got closer. It can get difficult to try and stay motivated otherwise.”
However, it’s not just the fitness aspect of the challenge that is so crucial and beneficial to Wort, as she went on to explain the personal reasons behind her involvement.
“The fitness side of it is a benefit but it was also important to make sure everyone had a goal and the motivation to keep going through lockdown.
“I really struggled in the first couple of lockdowns and I know some other people in the team did too.
“As a result, we thought it would bring us all together if we could raise some money for a mental health charity.
“I found the lockdowns that we’d already had really hard, so to then find out that we were going back into lockdown and I couldn’t see anyone again was tough to take for me.
“I’m not going into college either, so I’m not really seeing anyone but doing this makes you feel like you’re still part of the team and in it together.”
While the charity challenge might be something that the defender, who is a student at Brockenhurst College, can focus on during the country’s third lockdown, she was quick to praise the huge impact her family have had throughout what has been a challenging year.
Mum Sarah, dad Barry and brother Jordy are normally ever-present at Verwood Town cheering from the sidelines, but their support off the pitch has been just as important recently.
“My family have all been really supportive and I’m really grateful for that,” continued Wort.
“They’re actually all still able to work but we make sure that on the weekends, we stick together, spend some time as a family and all go for a walk. It’s been a really good thing to do.”
And while the football might have come to a stop, it’s not just her family who have played their part, with neighbour Brenda helping to provide a very welcome distraction for Wort.
“I’m also walking a dog for my old neighbour because she can’t get out to do it.
“I obviously make sure I’m wearing a mask when I go round and get the dog but it’s really good because it means that I can get out the house and speak to someone else too!
“She doesn’t see anyone else, so I feel like I’m helping her out. She always has a chat with me even if I’m outside and standing at a social distance. It’s actually really nice.”
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.