After joining the Guiseley Vixens Development team earlier this season, Caitlin Gunnell and Elizabeth White voice their opinion on their time with the team and where it is going in the future.
There are a lot of teams at this level in this region, why did you choose to join Guiseley?
EW: After finishing at the North Yorkshire Centre of Excellence and trying out different teams, I knew Guiseley was where I wanted to go. Even at the first session not only was everybody so welcoming of new younger players but right from the start there was clear determination from everyone in the squad. They already knew their goals for the season and I loved the positivity. Although there were some exciting and ambitious goals set out for the season ahead, the atmosphere throughout the club was relaxed which made it easy to express myself on the pitch.
CG: Having previously been at Leeds and Huddersfield, I wanted to be somewhere that was going to challenge me and that’s what I’ve had since joining the club. I’d heard from a few people that were going to Guiseley and they were already saying how good the set up was and that the standard of training was high. I also knew the coaches, who have a very good reputation so it was an easy decision.
What’s it like being the youngest player at Guiseley?
EW: The thought of it was daunting at first but you wouldn’t know I was the youngest, I don’t get treated any differently as age isn’t a factor at Guiseley. There’s a range of players here with many young players but also more experienced ones which creates a great mix. I may be the youngest but this hasn’t affected my opportunities to progress at the club, I’ve been able to play multiple games for the first team even starting in some, showing the trust that the coaches have in younger players and their eagerness for us to play and progress within the club. At other teams playing for the first team may seem nerve-wracking but at Guiseley the fact that everybody trains together makes it so much easier. You get to know the whole squad and the first team players encourage you throughout the match which benefited me as a player.
How do you reflect on the 2016/17 season?
CG: The beginning of the season was quite challenging as we were a new team that had not had a lot of time together. At times we were relying on players who struggled to commit, meaning I was hard to gel as a team. After Christmas, we recruited players that wanted to challenge themselves and train hard. Toward the end of the season, things really started to come together as can be seen from the performances and results like the last game of the season.
You’ve both made a number of first team appearances this season, what has that been like?
EW: The first time I was selected I was nervous but knowing that the whole team had your back made it a lot better. Being able to play with top quality players both in training and matches has definitely helped me progress as a player. I’ve improved so much from my previous club and I know this is due to playing alongside top players and learning different skills/ tactics that I haven’t experienced before. Having the opportunity to play for the first team against high standard oppositions even though being the youngest player has been a great journey and experience.
CG: It was daunting to begin with as the first team at Guiseley has many experienced and very talented players so it felt like I put more pressure on myself than normal. The players and coaches were really supportive and encouraged me a lot. This meant that these games helped develop me as a player with not only my ability but also my confidence.
What sort of progress has the development team made this season?
CG: I would say that we have made great progress. We have gelled as a team towards the end of the season, which has shown in some of our results. To say we were a brand new team, I think we’ve been successful. We have had players come in throughout and those players that have come in have made the team much stronger. With some new faces in the summer, it will be a very exciting second season for us.
Is the 7-1 win in the last game of the season a sign of things to come?
EW: As Caitlin said, we’ve had many new players this season and you can see the progress we’ve made. From beating Hull 1-0 at the start of the season to beating them 7-1 just shows the improvement throughout our squad. Next season we can only get better, with new players that will strengthen the squad even further and add to its depth. The cohesion and teamwork work seen in our last game set the standard for next season and we hope to carry this out with new energy that different players bring.
What would you say to any young players thinking of joining Guiseley?
CG: I would say that it’s a great team to join as everyone is treated equally, regardless of age. You will learn a lot not only from the coaches, but with the team due to everyone training together. This helps you see where you need to improve to be playing with them. Not only that, if put the work in, there will be opportunities throughout the season for you to play first team football.
EW: Go for it! The support you get from the whole the squad makes football at Guiseley so much more enjoyable. We have a great atmosphere down at the club and we welcome you to give it a go. When I first joined I loved the positive vibe created straight away and thrived off it, I’m sure new younger players even if nervous will fit right in too.