Video: Norwich Ladies aim for big time

PUBLISHED: 15:00 23 July 2009 | UPDATED: 16:22 10 September 2010

Viv Thomas

Norwich City Ladies, after a successful season, are gunning for the big time.

They want to gain promotion to the National League after a season which saw them bounce back into the South-East Combination to finish sixth and also lift the Norfolk and Suffolk County Cup.

Norwich City Ladies, after a successful season, are gunning for the big time.

They want to gain promotion to the National League after a season which saw them bounce back into the South-East Combination to finish sixth and also lift the Norfolk and Suffolk County Cup.

Co-manager Scott Emmerson said: “The aim for next season would be to finish at least top three with possibilities of winning the league.

“There is no-one in the league that we would fear. The advantage of having this season under our belts is that a young squad has progressed together and they can make a fresh title challenge for next season.

“We're looking to win the County Cup and to be successful in the League Cup. We'd also want to progress to the second or third round of the Women's FA Cup.”

The first team gained an official link to the men's club last summer as they prepared to return to the SE Combination League after dropping back down to the Eastern Region League for a season.

Emma Fletcher, goalkeeper and co-manager, said: “It has been a successful season. I think that we have proved to ourselves we can compete with the teams that are above us. We had a good unbeaten run just after Christmas.

“Our aim was to consolidate in the league. We were disappointed not to have gone further in the League Cup - that would have been our opportunity to show what we are capable of. At the same time, we won the County Cup so we managed to win a cup.”

With a host of young talent coming through because of links to the Norwich City Girls' Centre of Excellence and Football in the Community scheme, the club has a ready source of players.

City will have 15 players who have progressed through the Centre of Excellence playing a part in the coming season's campaign.

Fletcher underlined the importance of the link with the centre: “I think it's vital to have the link as we have worked with several of these girls since they were eight, through the Centre of Excellence programme at Football in the Community.

“We are now in the situation where we can offer them life after the centre, if they choose to do so with Norwich City Ladies FC, and continue along the same coaching structure. It's the final piece of the jigsaw.”

Several of the girls have had the opportunity to be selected for England through the Centre of Excellence and it is important for that to continue that they are playing at the highest level possible, Fletcher pointed out.

Laura Thacker, 16, is a player who has progressed through the Centre and has been playing in the first team since Christmas. Goal keeper Holly Clarke, 17 has also had England experience in the last couple of years and, like Laura, she was selected because of her involvement within the Centre of Excellence.

Both have been an asset to the team, according to Emmerson while 15-year-old Lucy Gunton-Jones, another Centre/England player, is itching to have her first-team debut and is seen as a great prospect for the future.

There is an unexpected aspect to next season which is eagerly anticipated, as Fletcher explained: “There will still be a Norwich/Ipswich derby, albeit on women's side. We'll be looking forward to a local derby against Ipswich Town Ladies because they have just been relegated to the SE Combination League.”

Anyone wanting to get involved in Norwich City Ladies FC should contact Emma Fletcher on 01603 761122 or email EmmaF@ncfc-canaries.co.uk

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