People associated with women’s football in Dorset have praised the games progress ahead of AFC Bournemouth’s match at the Vitality on November 5.
AFC Bournemouth Women are facing Portishead Town, with a record crowd of around 5,000 people expected to attend the game.
Portishead come into the game having won one and drawn one of their eight league games in comparison to AFC Bournemouth’s 100% record.
Speaking ahead of the clash, manager Steve Cuss said ‘With everything that is happening around the club at the moment, there is a real excitement and a real buzz around the team and the players are really buying into that.’
Steve Hopkins has been going to AFCB games for 60 years and the women’s games for six years and notes a marked improvement in attendance, he said: ‘When I first started coming to the games you were lucky to get 50 fans and now 400 turn up weekly and the team is setting a record attendance at the Vitality.’
He also added: ‘The quality of the game has improved and therefore the interest from the public has.’
The lionesses achievements in major tournaments have been pivotal in improving public interest and inspiring young girls to get into football.
Ridgeway Ladies (located near Weymouth) player Shakira Howard Hachem recognised their contributions and particularly Ella Toone, a shining light for Dorset as she has family links to Weymouth, for progression in the game.
She said: ‘I think Ella Toone is a great player and the progress of the Women’s World Cup has had a great impact on women’s football and football in general.’
In order to aid the progression in quality, there are plans to add to and develop the FA Centres of Excellence in Dorset.
Shakira said: ‘a centre of excellence is what’s needed anywhere but especially in Dorset.’
The centres help to develop young girls who want to get into football throughout the country and open up more avenues for girls who want to get into the game, thus contributing to the improvement in quality at senior level including at AFC Bournemouth.