Interview with Cam Cheal, new Reserve Team Manager

20th July 2019

With pre-season now fully underway for a few weeks and with recent changes to the club’s committee, we took the opportunity to talk to new Reserve Team manager, Cameron Cheal.

Cam was involved in the First Team setup last season as a coach, but has been given his first taste of senior management, taking over from Sarah Haden-Godwin, who last season led the Reserves to their highest ever league finish in the South-West Women’s Football League.

We got his thoughts on the early stages of the pre-season campaign, the new players coming into the camp, the additions to the coaching squad and his aims for this season.

“Yeah, I’m very happy, especially how pre-season has gone so far. It’s been exceptional. The players that have come in, it’s a young set of players, so I feel we can develop them in a positive way.
Tom [Davies] the first team coach has put together a very good intense structure that the girls are enjoying a lot and I think we have to be positive with that and work conjunctively with that and create a really good club atmosphere.

“When I took the role on, I sort of had two ideas in mind; do we take a lower finish in the league and focus on developing more players or do we aim to go all out and win the league? I think the first idea is more important, especially with the group we’ve got, so that development process is so important. We want them to go on to big and better things eventually, so if they stay with us for a year and develop really well, we could see them pushing for a first team place.

“Numbers in pre-season have been fantastic and it shows where the club has come over the last year and even further than that. And it shows we’re not just a club in Gloucestershire, we’re recognised all over the place and teams are scared of us now where as of a couple of years ago we weren’t. We were seen as the whipping boys a little bit but now they see us as a challenging contest as both teams proved last year.
Pre-season has been fantastic, nobody likes running but it has to be done, as it’s pre-season.

“We’re always happy and accepting to bring players into the club, but in terms of numbers for both teams, we’ve got great numbers and the quality is there as well. Moving forward to the season, you want to keep a core group but there’s always worries of injuries, personal problems, or players leaving to go to university, you know these sort of things happen, we have to take that into account.
But I think its about getting a good group and settling with it and if one or two decide to stay or leave, can we then focus on bringing fresh faces in to fill those gaps.

“It’s hard to say if we’ll miss any specific players, as the whole philosophy has changed for this season. So my personal philosophy is focused on development, developing players, which is why I thought I’d be perfect for the role. They’re young players and it is all about that development. Obviously we want to win but we’ve taken a step back from that now and yeah, our league position might be jeopardised because of it, but I’m happy with that as long as players are being progressed and players are developing as I said.
I think it’s a different role for my part and the players, but it’s hard to say that because I don’t know what Sarah [Haden-Godwin, former Reserve Team manager] had in her vision last season. But it doesn’t change that I’ve still got to come at it in a positive manner and the girls do the same.

On whether the results will be a factor in his first season in management:
“Every manager wants to win games don’t they? I didn’t come here to lose, winning games is important but as long as we are seeing the improvements in players that’s the key aim. As long as they are they are providing what they should on the pitch and what we’re doing in training and bringing that into games then I’ll be happy.

“We’ve got Ben [Ware] and Andy [Symanowski] come in too which is good. Ben’s a young lad and has contributed well with the youth groups before this. Working with us will help him to progress and develop his coaching and Andy is a bit more of an experienced head and will bring more experience to the girls. And it should create a good mix with Ben’s young age and maybe a little bit of naivety, as he’s so young, but it’s a great opportunity for both of us to learn from Andy.”

The Reserves started pre-season with a 4-0 win over Pucklechurch last weekend and return to action tomorrow at 2pm away to Forest Green Rovers Ladies. They’re at home on Wednesday July 24th against West Bromwich Albion Women Development. Kick off 7:30pm.

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