LEAMINGTON Ladies FC manager Ian Hemingway has reflected with pride on a highly encouraging 2013/14 campaign in charge of his side, who finished second in the West Midlands Regional Premier Division after a season of rebuilding.
Hemingway now has high hopes for the future, as he revealed to Anna-Louise Adams.
“I originally was brought in as part of the coaching staff, as a goalkeeping coach by then manager Joe Graham. Joe then had to step down due to work commitments and I was offered the chance of taking over the team,” said Hemingway.
“We played successfully, but we had a few disappointing moments. The club was in a rebuilding process and we brought ten new signings in at the start of the season – many of them under 18.
“We finished second in the league and missing key players due to injury is what cost us promotion. To me though, it’s a positive, as it means that next season we are ready to go again with a new ethos and belief.
“I couldn’t be more proud of what the ladies have achieved this season, so a massive thank you to them.”
Leamington Ladies have already organised a number of pre-season friendlies. Their first match is away to Folly Lane on July 16, before inviting Derby County Ladies to the New Windmill on July 23.
Another two home matches follow when they play Radcliffe and Leamington Hibs on August 3 and August 20 respectively, before finishing off with a match at Cirencester on August 24.
Hemingway said: “Pre-season for me is about fitness, gelling as a team and setting our standards. The friendlies against Radcliffe and Cirencester are competitive and the game against Derby is a chance to get a proven Women’s Premier team at home to see how far away from them we are.
“In my opinion, I think I have a squad capable of matching them. The women’s football pyramid has been restructured this year which means Radcliffe will also be plying their trade in the Premier League.
“We haven’t got any easy games this pre-season, including a tough trip to Folly Lane who gained promotion to the West Midlands Regional this year. It’s an exciting pre-season and I am looking forward to it getting underway.”
After narrowly missing out on promotion last season, Hemingway has some serious aims for the coming campaign.
He continued: “Our aims are simple – to win the league and cup double and gain promotion to the Women’s Premier League.
“As a club we are still rebuilding. A lot of teams in the league above, and in our league, have a Centre of Excellence or a structured girls set-up to bring players through to the first team.
“We are currently in the process of starting that with our junior set-up at Leamington Lions. It’s a massive season for us as a club.”
The transfer season has been fairly quiet for Leamington Ladies, as the manager tries to retain the squad to successfully achieve promotion next season.
“Almost all the squad will remain for the coming season. We lost one player at the end of the season and one with about four games to go,” he added.
“Both of the players left on good terms and the door has been left open for them to return if they so wish.
“I am talking to a couple of players about bringing them to the New Windmill. If I could, I’d like to add a full back, a wide midfielder and Toni Duggan! (of Manchester City Women in Women’s Super League 1). Failing that, a bullish, powerhouse striker to give us a different dimension going forward.”
The manager welcomes new fans down to the New Windmill to support the ladies next season.
He said: “Women’s football is progressing every season. It’s good to see the Women’s Super League being shown on TV. As a club we went to the Women’s FA Cup Final where there was a crowd of 22,000.
“The only people who aren’t sold on women’s football are the ones stuck in 1940. Anyone who doubts it, I would advise to come down and watch us or their local women’s team.”
Having coached both men and women before, Hemingway believes women respond better to coaches than men.
“There are few differences between coaching men and women. In the women’s game you tend to get less questions – they listen to what you have asked them to do and genuinely want to learn and play the game.
“In the men’s game, they want to know the reason behind every decision you make on match day or in training.
“My ladies push themselves harder than any other team I have worked with due to the togetherness we have built.”