Mishra looking forward to his FAWPL debut season
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 6:20PM UTC, Friday, 04 September 2015
Riteesh Mishra has hailed the quality of the Charlton womenís teamís reserve squad, as he prepares them for the start of their FA Womenís Premier League South campaign this weekend.
ďIíve been saying since I started the season that thereís no better time as a player to be involved in womenís football, thereís so much spotlight on it now.
The Addicks travel to the south coast to face Portsmouth on Sunday as they begin their defence of the FAWPL South title they won convincingly last season.
Former Nottingham Forest and Stirling Albion player Mishra has been managing the side for just over a month, having replaced Warren Clarke at the beginning of pre-season.
And the UEFA B Licence-qualified coach has been impressed with his squad in that time, despite results not quite going their way.
He said: “[Pre-season] has been a great opportunity for me to see not only the established senior players but also the young crop of players.
“It’s been a bit hit and miss in terms of results but the most important thing in pre-season is getting people’s fitness levels up, getting people to understand our philosophy and how we’d like to play.
“I did some work with the under 16s last year so I’ve been able to see them develop from under 16 to senior football and the girls seem to be improving every session, that’s physically, tactically and also technically, which is great and I’m really looking forward to the season starting on Sunday. Physically people are looking strong and we’ve got real competition for places.
“We’ve consciously kept the reserve and development players from last year training together throughout so the reserve team players are seeing competition for places from the younger guys who are developing quickly and also the guys in the development squad see that opportunity for them to play reserve team football.
“They’ve been training very well, pleased with their attitude and performance so it’s a difficult decision for me to make in terms of who to pick for what squad on Sunday but that’s always a better position to be in.”
Last season was somewhat of a mixed bag for the reserves, with the disappointment of early exits from both the FAWPL Reserve Cup and Kent Cup being tempered by the jubilation of winning the league.
And the side have great pedigree in the FAWPL South, having won back in 2012/13 and been runners up by just two points the following campaign.
And Mishra is determined for his team to retain the silverware and give a better account of themselves in the cup competitions, as well as prepare players to step into the first team if needed.
“As a team, we set out goals; as individuals my main goals this season are to be developing players to make sure that they are technically, tactically, physically and mentally right for their development, whatever stage that is,” he added.
“But I’ve been involved in professional football for a long time and the goal is always to win so we’re going to try to retain what we did last year and also improve upon that in cup competitions.
“I think it’s a double-edged sword, we want to develop players as best we can for the first team but also we want to do that by winning and it’s about finding that right balance.
“I’ve been saying since I started the season that there’s no better time as a player to be involved in women’s football, there’s so much spotlight on it now.
“It’s fastly catching up with the men’s game and some of these girls here have the attributes and the potential to go a long way and it’s now about developing on that but also keeping that winning mentality.”
Combined with Clarke leaving to become part-time coach within the men’s academy, the reserves also saw influential captain Clare Rogers retire, while vice captain Georgia Richards has also moved on.
Mishra has, therefore, had to replace those two, with goalkeeper Alex Baker stepping into the skipper’s role and full back Hope Nash as vice captain.
And, having had pre-season to assess the candidates, the manager is pleased with his decision, hoping the new roles will bring the best out of the pair.
“Alex has naturally taken on a leadership role,” he said, “she’s one of the more senior players in the group and I’ve seen that since the start of the season.
“She’s been somebody who is vocal in her opinion which is great; you need those type of characters in the dressing room, and I’m hoping giving her that captaincy she can continue that on the pitch.
“And Hope has been somebody who has really impressed me in pre-season, she’s got the right work ethic, her fitness levels have been very strong.
“I think giving her the vice captaincy will allow her to excel even more and give her that platform to become even more of a leader on the pitch because I think that’s the next stage of her development.
“We can say as much as we can on the sidelines but you need people on the pitch who can really drag people through, lead by example and I think Alex and Hope have shown they can do that and I’m hoping they can do it through the rest of the season.”