Harlow Town Ladies finally returned to training on Wednesday, the first time since the UK entered another lockdown in the New Year. After a good session, we caught up with forward Georgia Box and defender Davina Smith to chat about the return to football and the upcoming cup competition in the Eastern Region Women’s Football League.

“I’m definitely happy to be back” explained Georgia Box. “I’ve been feeling a bit like a granny over the last few months, so it feels nice to be getting back to full fitness and back with the girls. It would also be good to do some friendly matches too before we get back into some competitive action.”

Although fitness during training and the match sharpness will be missing after months of not playing football, the ladies had tried to keep themselves as fit as possible on their own. The Lady Hawks had created a group to keep track of the runs while using it to motivate each other. “We have a WhatsApp group called the fitness group with the girls posting their runs and trying to gee the others up. Some of the girls have been doing their runs at 6.30 in the morning which has spurred a few others on. If we didn’t have that group, I don’t think the girls would have been as up for it as they are.”

“That’s not me [running at 6.30am]. Not going to lie!” joked Box.

The first fixtures that Harlow Ladies will play would see them feature in the ERWFL Challenge Cup, going up against fellow-league sides from both the Premier Division and the Division One’s (North and South). There was no doubt that this was something to look forward to and for Georgia, that was no different. “I’m excited! It’s a nice way to ease back into football and we have some new faces here, so it would be nice to get onto the pitch with them as well. With last season, we were still quite a new team, and everyone needed to gel and get used to playing with each other. This cup will be that opportunity that we didn’t get due to Covid last season where we can get to know each other before the new season. That will put us in a good position when the league and cups return next season.”

The only other Premier Division side in the same group as Harlow was Bedford, making them the only guaranteed top division side Harlow would face, but with a 5-team group, it meant Harlow would face lower league clubs, testing themselves against future Premier Division sides. “We’ve tested ourselves against higher opposition with the likes of Ipswich Town [in the FA Women’s Cup] and Portsmouth [in a pre-season friendly], so we ain’t going to take anything for granted,” explained Smith before continuing, “We know we can’t be complacent, and we also know that they are going to want to beat us. Football is a funny old game for that reason, but I think that will spur us on more. We don’t know what type of players they have. They may have players who are just there to have some fun. We need to be at our best.”

“We’ve been out for so long, so we don’t know know what to expect and that just means we need to be on our A-game,” added Georgia Box. “We can’t look at them as lower opposition, but this as a competition that we can win.”

The forward continued. “We have always competed, and we have always done well as a group of girls. We like to win, but we can be complacent, and we have to put in the fight, if we want to achieve things. I think to think we can [win the competition]. because of that”

With such a long break from action, more ladies wanted to get involved with the club. New faces were welcomed to the club to build their skills. “It’s always good to have competition within a squad because you don’t want to get too comfortable. Competition is something that needs, and as a group, we are such a good bunch of girls and all friendly, so they’ve gelled straight away. Two or three people fighting for you position will make you fight harder.”

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