'We are Norwich City and I set the benchmark high' - new Ladies head coach

PUBLISHED: 10:57 16 August 2019 | UPDATED: 10:57 16 August 2019

Action from NCFC Ladies Development team at home to Gillingham last season Picture: Ben Gilby

Action from NCFC Ladies Development team at home to Gillingham last season Picture: Ben Gilby

Archant

Norwich City Ladies go into their new season this weekend with a new head coach - and plenty of optimism.

Kirstie Smith, captain of Norwich City Ladies Development team Picture: Brian CoombesKirstie Smith, captain of Norwich City Ladies Development team Picture: Brian Coombes

Greg Dimsey takes charge, having joined the club as a coach and performance analyst last season.

Dimsey can call on the experience of 13 years of coaching and five years as a manager and is in the process of finalising his Uefa B coaching course.

"This is a long-term project," he said. "It's easy to be focused on the here and now, but the long-term goals are as important as the short term. I want to build a structure, provide stability and facilitate an environment for players to flourish, reach their potential and most importantly, enjoy football.

"We are Norwich City and I set the benchmark high to ensure we reach our potential moving forwards."

For the club's new head coach, one of the keys to success is the importance of everyone buying into his aims.

"It can't be forgotten that the benchmark is there for staff and players alike," he said. "We are all on this journey together, and that's the only way we will see the success I know can be achieved."

Among the players, there is excitement ahead of the new campaign.

Kirstie Smith, captain of the Development squad, said: "We've got a new lease of life under Greg. The girls are more determined than ever to succeed and work together to achieve our goals as one team, one club.

"I am proud of the team spirit and togetherness which saw some fantastic results and performance to get us over the line (last season). The campaign saw the emergence of some key players such as Hope Armstrong, Alice Parker, Tigi Robson and Reeanna Cook establishing themselves as first team regulars."

Smith believes that after the huge media coverage of this summer's Women's World Cup, the sport is ready for lift-off.

"The game has grown rapidly in every aspect, and it's great to see," she said. "From participation to my every day job of teaching PE, it's fantastic to see girls playing and enjoying the game, free from the stigma that I had experienced as a young player. I grew up trying to emulate my footballing hero, Ryan Giggs. It was far from the norm for a girl to want to play football when I was younger. My mum had to speak to my primary school headteacher to allow me to join in with the boys at school. When I went to secondary school, I helped to push for a girls' football team and was one of the founding players.

"I loved nothing more than to play for the school and even tried to cut off a plaster cast in the changing rooms so I could still play when injured!

"It was through school success that I got noticed and ended up being part of the Norwich Centre of Excellence and Norfolk Schools. I often speak with envy to younger players who don't understand how lucky they are to have all of these fantastic opportunities which is only going to increase as time goes on. The World Cup was exceptional, the coverage was fantastic and really allowed women's football to have the centre stage, and I predict we will see a significant rise again in participation and the growth of the women's game.

"Norwich City Ladies pride ourselves on being Norfolk's top female football side and we hope the football prowess on display reflects that. The club is extremely welcoming and provides a great platform to experience women's football."

Last season's headline was the league double over Ipswich Town.

Towards the end of the season there were a series of matches where the promising level of performance from the team wasn't rewarded by results, and the side went into their final league game at home to Billericay Town needing to win to ensure their place in the National League Division One South-East for another season.

A fantastic come-from-behind victory showed the potential and belief in the squad. Another real bonus last season was the launching of a Norwich City Ladies Development squad which provides not only a pathway to the first team from girls football, but also an opportunity to players not playing first team football to regularly play competitive matches for Norwich City and have the chance to catch the eye of the coaches and to potentially go on to play first team football.

The Development team play in a tough reserve league facing the likes of Tottenham Hotspur, but it is a fantastic opportunity to develop the club's promising youngsters further.

Smith said: "It shows the growth of the club and our ambition to continue and progress as a club, nurturing and developing local talent to help sustain the club and the future of Norwich City Ladies."

FIXTURES

August

18: AFC Basildon (away)

25: Enfield Town (FAWNLge Cup 1R) (away)

SEPTEMBER

1: Stevenage (home)

You may also want to watch:

4: Ipswich Town (away)

8: Leyton Orient (away)

15: Billericay Town (home)

29: Cambridge City (home)

OCTOBER

9: Cambridge United (away)

20: Actonians (home)

27: Kent Football United (home)

NOVEMBER

10: AFC Wimbledon (home)

DECEMBER

8: Enfield Town (away)

JANUARY

12: AFC Basildon (home)

FEBRUARY

2: Stevenage (away)

9: Leyton Orient (home)

19: Ipswich Town (home)

23: Billericay Town (away)

MARCH

8: Cambridge City (away)

18: Cambridge United (home)

22: Actonians (home)

29: Kent Football United (away)

APRIL

26: AFC Wimbledon (away)

MAY

10: Enfield Town (home)

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