GIRLS FOOTBALL onsıde| ISSUE 39 21 PRE-SEASON NERVES Before a pre-season ball had even been kicked, there was a degree of apprehension in the air towards the radical changes that The FA had rung in. Parents and even coaching staff were anxious about how quickly the girls – the majority of whom had not previously played together – could adapt to their new playing environment. Could they cope with the physicality, the speed, the technical quality and the ‘winning’ mentality of the boys? How would they respond to negative reactions from opposition players, parents and coaches, who may also be sceptical of the new rules? Equally some of the girls themselves, unsurprisingly, felt nerves about facing the boys. “Different emotions went through my head,” said one of our players, Olivia Bartlett. “I felt excited because I knew it was going to be a tough challenge and we were going to come up against some of the best boys in the league. I also felt nervous because I didn’t know how big and strong they would be and if I would be able to match them.” Ryeesa Sekhon echoed her doubts about the physicality of the boys, saying, “I was excited by the challenge and wanted to know if it would make me a better player but I had worries if the boys were more aggressive and in case I got injured.” However, this trepidation amongst some of our young guns was matched with feelings of excitement and a defiant confidence about stepping into the unknown. “I did feel a little nervous as we were the first girls’ team to play in the Watford Friendly League,” Maddy Earl, told me. “But I was