Weston setting his sights on WSL
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 8:34PM BST, Tuesday, 01 July 2014
Stuart Weston has targeted promotion to the FA Women’s Super League (FAWSL) for the Charlton women’s team next season, as his side prepares to return to training on Monday.
“We have some excellent footballers here – we’re just lucky we’ve got a bunch of girls that love this club and are loyal to it"
Despite initially being a closed shop, the FA has agreed to extend the league earlier than expected, with one FA Women’s Premier League (FAWPL) team gaining promotion in 2016 and one in 2017.
With two FAWPL divisions (Northern and Southern), promotion will be decided by a two-legged play off between the winners of those leagues. The winning club will also have to meet the FA WSL criteria.
And Weston hopes the Addicks can improve on their fifth-placed finish last term, but acknowledged “it’s a lot easier said than done”, admitting “we have some strong teams in our league, and also in the Northern league, as we found out last year”.
He added: “Obviously my ambition is to win the league - you wouldn’t be in football if you didn’t want to win things.
“We know it’s going to be a hard task but we’re up for that task and even though we haven’t started pre-season yet I know that’s what the girls want as well.
“We have some excellent footballers here – we’re just lucky we’ve got a bunch of girls that love this club and are loyal to it.
“Hopefully we’ll get a good pre-season in, go off to Portugal [for a week-long training camp in the Algarve] and get a good start to the season.
“All the girls are competitive and they want to win things but I think that big extra bit that says you can go into the Super League if you win this league and win the play off is massive.”
Despite what looks, on paper, to be a disappointing finish last term, especially with similar ambitions touted this time a year ago, the finish was secured in the face of plenty of adversity.
Some very important players missed the majority of last season through cruciate ligament injuries, including club captain Kim Dixson, 2012/13’s top scorer Gemma Shepherd and defensive stalwart Jordan Butler.
In addition, new signing in defence and former captain of West Ham United Rosey Sullivan missed the entire campaign and stand-in skipper Jenny Newman hasn’t played since February.
However, Shepherd and Newman will be back for pre-season training, as, it is hoped, will Sullivan. Dixson and Butler could be back before the year is out and Weston is looking forward to being able to call upon those quality players once more.
The positive for me,” he said, “is obviously last season was horrific for us injury-wise but a fair few of them are going to be ready for the start of the season and the ones that aren’t quite aren’t going to be far off.
“By quarter of the way through the season we should hopefully have our squad back to full strength.
“And they’re raring to go – Gemma Shepherd texts me a couple of times a week saying, ‘can’t wait for the season to start’ and that she’s been working hard and when you see her doing her running, she’s as fit as you’ve ever seen her.
“ Last year I had visions of us pushing to win the league and the run [of of five straight league wins] after Christmas, maybe if we’d had a couple of the players that are injured in the squad we’d have kept that going.
“We just had a few unfortunate results where we just fell short but I think if we’d had a couple of those players it would have filled a few gaps and kept the squad fresh because some players had to play constantly.”