Pil­grims plea for funds can aid progress

The Football League Paper - - WOMEN'S FOOTBALL WEEKLY - By Sheri­dan Robins

PLYMOUTH Ladies have had a tough start to their WPL South cam­paign but their strug­gles go deeper than re­sults on the pitch.

The club are bot­tom of the league – with just one win in their ten matches so far – but are on a mis­sion to raise funds to help them stay in the league for an­other sea­son.

In a bid to help cover travel costs and es­sen­tial kit and equip­ment, Plymouth launched a crowd­fun­der that raised £1,750.

Club cap­tain Katie Mid­dle­ton has been at Ar­gyle for 15 years and be­lieves the prob­lems on the pitch stem from the lack of re­sources avail­able. The 30-year-old told Women’s

Foot­ball Weekly the club meant a lot to her and she would con­tinue to help be­hind the scenes.

De­cided

She said:“The bot­tom line is we don’t have enough money to sur­vive as a club.All we want is to keep the club go­ing.We de­cided, as a com­mit­tee, to try to get lo­cal peo­ple in­volved and help us out.

“One of the main things is the trav­el­ling.We have al­ways had to self-fund and we travel 4,000 miles a sea­son. Be­ing in the South West, there are a lot of miles to be cov­ered, so we need to pay for petrol or even ho­tels if we need to travel up on a Satur­day night.

“A few of the teams are in and around Lon­don and that is a long way for us to go.”

Kevin Tay­lor, the Pil­grims man­ager, has been in charge since the start of the sea­son and is re­al­is­tic about chal­leng­ing the top teams. He be­lieves their lo­ca­tion plays a ma­jor part.

He said: “Our near­est away game is For­est Green – which is still 140 miles – and, due to our lack of funds, we can only train once a week. Brighton (who lie sec­ond in the WPL South) can train three times a week, which ob­vi­ously ben­e­fits them.

“Right from the word go, I re­alised the dif­fer­ence be­tween the top five or six teams in this di­vi­sion and the bot­tom teams is vast.We have only 24 play­ers and this can take its toll with the trav­el­ling, in­juries or if some­one is un­avail­able.”

With such tough op­po­si­tion, as well as the fi­nan­cial is­sues, coach and cap­tain find their mo­ti­va­tion through the fu­ture tal­ent on dis­play in their cen­tre of ex­cel­lence.

Mid­dle­ton said: “What keeps me mo­ti­vated are the young girls com­ing through. I want to help them get bet­ter and have al­ways wanted to help young­sters play at the high­est level. I spent a sea­son with Bris­tol Acad­emy, so I know what it is like to play at the top, but we are at an ex­tremely high level in the Premier League. It’s an hon­our to rep­re­sent Plymouth Ar­gyle.”

Re­al­is­tic

Tay­lor knows the chal­lenge that lies ahead to keep Plymouth up, but he is op­ti­mistic as their run-in is slightly less in­tim­i­dat­ing in the com­ing weeks.

He said: “Our first five games were against the top five and we lost them all. Now we must fo­cus on the teams around us. Re­al­is­ti­cally, our sea­son starts now.

“In our side we have a 16- and a 17-year-old who have been fast tracked to the first team due to our lack of re­serve team, but we see this as a pos­i­tive. They will get ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing at a top level and can help se­cure our place in the league next sea­son.”

PIC­TURE: James McTag­gart

TRAV­EL­LING BAND: Katie Mid­dle­ton and her team­mates rack up 4,000 miles a sea­son

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