TALKING PORT: Chelsey Harris

With Port Talbot Town Ladies Football Club set to resume competitive football and bring league competition back to Victoria Road for the first time since lockdown in March with the return of the Orchard Welsh Premier Women’s League this weekend, Brandon Arthur caught up with Ladies’ players Chelsey Harris for the latest edition of Talking Port to discuss all things regarding Port Talbot Town Ladies FC.

Hi Chelsey, thank you very much for your time. How excited are you that Port Talbot Town Ladies are so close to returning to competitive action?

Super excited. I think I can speak on behalf of all the team when I say we cannot wait to play competitive football again. It’s been great to have some sort of normality back in our lives with training back in full force and being able to play friendlies against WPWL teams to prepare us for the up and coming season. We’ve had three friendly fixtures behind closed doors and we’re happy with the benchmark set with three wins under our belt. 

It will be a completely different environment given the current situation. What have your experiences been like with the friendlies so far?

It’s a totally different environment, so much work has happened behind the scenes to ensure we arere following the new rules and restrictions, but I feel pre-season has helped us get used to the “new normal”.

How frustrating was it to have the last season curtailed with no initial sign of when football might resume?

It was strange. It’s just something we have had to wait and ride out but now that we have had the go ahead to play, we are making sure we have all restrictions and precautions in place. Don’t get me wrong, it was frustrating as a player but everyone and every team were in the same boat of uncertainty. 

Although it was cut short, how do you reflect on last season?

Last season was a successful one for us. We hit all our given targets with the main ones being finishing fourth place in the WPWL and reaching a cup semi-final. We had a close-knit team and always gave 110% on matchdays. 

How was communication with Hayley and your teammates during lockdown?

Communication between the whole team was great. We tried to keep in contact as much as possible by having weekly Zoom meetings/quizzes on our usual training days, setting exercise challenges, completing training programmes and purely checking in with everyone regularly to keep the mind going. Lockdown was a very stressful period for some, so we made sure we were all there for each other. 

What does it mean to be flying the flag and bringing league football back to Victoria Road?

It is amazing. Female football doesn’t normally get as much recognition as the men’s game, so it’ll be interesting to see if fans and our recognition increases being the first team to restart. #OneClub #OneTown #AllTeams

Although fixtures will take place behind closed doors initially, do you have a message for fans who perhaps have yet to sample the ladies’ game/team?

Follow us on social media for team news and matchday updates. This year we are hoping to film all games so there will be video highlights available too. When fixtures are open, we would like to encourage and welcome all fans to come and watch. It always helps when you have fans backing you and it’s a great spirit for the club as a whole. 

How competitive do you expect the league to be this season?

I think it will be very competitive, more so this season after a longer break from football due to COVID-19. The standard of teams in the league is constantly improving and it’s always a challenge every week no matter the opposition we face.

What in your opinion would be a successful season for PTT Ladies?

To improve on our performance last season with the right commitment and attitude. Hit our expectations of reaching a cup semi-final and to finish fourth in the league. Also, to potentially hit our ambitions of reaching a cup final and break into the top three in the league.

And how important will it be to start with a win against Aberystwyth in the opener?

I think it’s really important to get off to a good start with our opening game. It naturally boosts team moral and confidence for the upcoming fixtures. Fingers crossed we can continue our unbeaten pre-season momentum and come away with a win.

Port Talbot Town Ladies FC return to action with a home fixture at Victoria Road this Sunday (27 September) as they take on Aberystwyth Town Ladies FC. Kick off for this one is 2pm, with the match set to be played behind closed doors. 

You can follow the Ladies team across their social medias:

Twitter: @PTTownLadiesFC
Facebook: Port Talbot Town Ladies FC
Instagram: @pttownladiesfc