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Forest ready for the challenge
 Women's Football News 15 Aug 2008
Forest ready for the challenge - 15 Aug 2008 - Women's Football NewsNewly promoted Nottingham Forest are now facing their biggest challenge in their history as they prepare to kick off their first ever National Division game against Birmingham City this coming Sunday.
The club has been busy behind the scenes preparing to meet the high criteria set by the F.A. - something expected when associated with playing at the highest level in women's football. The First Team will now play their home games at Carlton Town FC, a newly negotiated deal finalised during the closed season. In addition the club secured sponsorship to kit out the Senior squad in the branded replica kit associated with the men's side. This covers home and away kit and additional match day and training wear.
The club has still to secure the type of funding that would elevate their financial status to match their top flight competitors but the club Chairperson, P.J.Andrews, is keen to drive interest and several initiatives: "Every year it's a challenge to bring finance to the club," she says. "We are effectively a charity cause and are competing with significant organisations that you could argue benefit more. That is not to say we are not deserving because the club impacts on promoting a healthy sport and giving girls and women the opportunity to train with top class coaches. They are also able to compete at the highest level across all age groups which is a gateway opportunity for the elite to progress at International Level also. We just need a local business or entrepeneur to recognise the impact they can have and make the step to invest. Every bit helps."
Forest have had positive results from their pre-season campaign with convincing wins over Charlton (7-0), Coventry (6-1) and a draw against West Brom (4-4). Their silverware was enhanced by becoming the Preston 11-a-side Tournament Champions, beating Preston 4-1 in the final after wins over Barnet and Derby amongst others.
Manager Lisa Dawkins is appreciative of the work undertaken behind the scenes to improve facilities and initiatives for the squad and is pleased with developments. Her main activity though has been working with her management and coaching team to prepare for the fast paced games ahead. Dawkins says: "Sunday is nearly upon us and it is still difficult to pick my starting eleven. With no players leaving during the closed season, we have added two key players who I believe add strength in key areas. Goalkeeper Claire Wallhead joins from Sheffield Wednesday and Sam Griffiths joins from Alfreton Town as an attacking midfield/forward. I now have options from 22 players and every player has applied themselves throughout pre-season which presents me with a difficult task.
"However, playing at this level will mean a quicker tempo and I will need players who will match up to internationals who have competed in this league regularly. I know this squad is capable and I think they will get stronger as the season progresses by gaining more experience. The main objective is to establish ourselves and we will do that by taking one game at a time. We have a strong togetherness both on and off the field at the club and if they take that spirit, enthusiasm, commitment and belief onto the field I know they will achieve.
"We play Birmingham at the weekend and we know how credible they are playing at this level. Every team we will play will be tough opposition and we have to go out with sturdy minds from the kick off to determine any authority."
The club has a healthy Reserve side which will now be managed by Nigel Wildgust. This is a new appointment but Nigel is known to the Club as he managed the Under-13s and 14s two years ago. Wildgust has acquired his Level Two coaching badge since then and is currently looking to progress further. He is familiar with the senior squad and importantly knows and understands the next stage in further development of the 16-18 age groups whom have stepped up from the Centre of Excellence.
The balance of youth and experience is critical for the success of a Reserve Team and Wildgust is quick to recognise this: "I'm delighted to be given the opportunity to work with Lisa and Andy and alongside my own management and coaching staff to build for the future of the club. We will have players coming from the First team squad and players who are building to make a challenge for the First team in a few years, also with others who will be key but stable reserve players. It is important to have the right blend and in order to do that, we must create the right environment and establish understanding with the players. I am confident we can do that and will make every effort to have a successful season ahead."

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