Fitzsimons aiming for resilience
The final of the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup is due to take place on Wednesday 23 February 2022 between Crawley Wasps and Brighton & Hove Albion.
Crawley Wasps vs. Brighton & Hove Albion
Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup Final
Date: Wednesday 23 February 2022
Venue: Sussex County FA, Culver Road, Lancing, West Sussex, BN15 9A
Sinead ‘Naz’ Fitzsimons is Brighton’s Dual Career Academy head coach which she took up three years ago having previously coached at Millwall Lionesses and London City Lionesses where she was assistant manager.
Now, in charge of developing young female players at Brighton, she believes the Women’s Challenge Cup has been fantastic for the young players.
“I think idea of having a decent number of fans watching on will be something different to what they've previously been exposed to. With the pandemic, we haven't had the opportunity to play in front of fans so that's one of the most exciting things for them.
“They'll love it, they'll stay together through the boos or the cheers! That's one thing about this group is their togetherness. They will never ever give up, and I'm very proud of that. It's one thing we strive together for at Brighton is to never give up.
“Even leading up to the final, we had such a good range of games. We had Saltdean, we had Hastings, very different to the types of teams we'd usually play against, and different environments.
“A lot of grass which we aren't used to, a lot of our games are on astro to ensure the games are played, so the grass pitches we've played on has been great.
“Some of the conditions have been atrocious because of the weather so it forces the players to have to really put in a shift and be really resilient. That range of exposure is crucial to their development.”
As much as Naz, stresses the want to win in this competition, for her side it goes beyond that.
“Winning is important but at this development stage it isn't the be all and end all. This experience for them is really important. If I see defensive organisation, if I see grit in one v one battles, if I see the effort to play through the thirds, that'll make me really proud.
“But also, just for the players to show some individual freedom and be able to just show what they've got. If I see that and a resilient performance, I'll be happy.
“This is why we enter the cup games because although we are in a league, whether they win that or not isn't too important. But the cup is an opportunity to strive and win something.
“I think this is an occasion where you have a youth team against a senior team, and everyone can underestimate the youth players.
“The girls will thrive on that, they will love that, they just want to prove a point and push on to play first-team football.”
As mentioned in the Crawley Wasps preview, opposition manager, Dan Logue, worked with Naz at Millwall. They know each other well and it’s going to prove to be a strange occasion for the pair.
“We've also got three players dual-signed to Crawley Wasps, so know a lot about them! A few of our under-21s currently play in the team for them so regularly I'm in contact with Dan.
“It's going to be quite a weird experience! We always catch up on how things are going, how the dual-signed players are playing, and then the next thing we're against each other in the cup!
“I've had to be very careful what I do and don't say to Dan because I don't want him to know too much about what we're planning!”
Lastly, she spoke of how these competitions and its exposure, create more and more opportunities for young girls.
“Recently I went to watch some of our under-12 games and I'm telling you now, the evolution of the game is incredible.
“That's due to these competitions, it's due to this promotion and push that it's getting. The young teams coming up are only going to get better and better.
“Even myself growing up, my role models were male players so that exposure for young girls now helps them to see they can do it.”
Entry prices for the final are as follows:
£6.00 Adult (17+)
£4.00 Concession (65+ and students with valid student ID card)
FREE Child (16 and under)
£1.50 Official Match Day Programme
For further details about the Sussex Women’s Challenge Cup please contact Competitions:
T: 01903 753547