The 2019/20 season kicks off for Southampton FC Women on Sunday afternoon, as they embark on their FA National League (south west) opener against Chesham.
It’s been a long time coming for Marieanne Spacey-Cale’s side, who have been in pre-season training since early July, and are now looking forward to their next challenge, having sailed through last year’s league campaign unbeaten.
MSC is under no illusion, though, that promotion to the tier above means a higher level of competition, and to prepare for that, has bought in a number of players to bolster her first-team squad.
As well as additions from outside the club, a number of young players are also hoping to make strides towards the first-team this season, with many involved during pre-season friendlies, as MSC explains.
"Some players have come through our Regional Talent Club, or were Under-21s last season and are making a move towards the first-team," she began.
"Players want to be a part of our journey. This is a really exciting group. The league is really important this year and we want to make our mark on it, but we’re also really keen that the future looks bright.
"Players have come from higher leagues to join us because there is a future for women’s football at Southampton. It’s tough to tell what that looks like exactly, but we want to strive to be the best we can be.
"We’re definitely looking forward to playing our first game in this new tier and seeing where we fit in this league," Marieanne continued.
"The retention of the players from last season was vitally important and then adding players who will influence and impact our squad. We were very careful with our recruitment.
"It’s very much about the person as well as the player. It’s about what they bring to the group on the pitch as well as off it.
Marieanne Spacey-Cale on season aimsLong-term we want to be at the forefront of women's football.
"We want to ensure our existing players, and any new players, are the right fit for the club.
"Short-term, of course we’re looking at the game against Chesham on Sunday, but long-term, we really want to be at the forefront of women’s football in the future."