Bradford City Women made a welcome return to competitive football last week - five months after their campaign was ended prematurely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bantams' final match of the 2019/20 FA Women’s National League North season ended in a 3-0 defeat at Liverpool Feds, before their pre-season preparations immediately commenced.
City began preparations with three challenging games - starting with a 2-2 draw at Rotherham before a 1-0 away defeat at the hands of Ossett United.
The Bantams also fell victim to West Yorkshire neighbours Huddersfield Town, who came away with a 6-0 win in their third pre-season victory.
However, despite the early setbacks, first team manager Chris Hames has his eye on the players’ opportunities to learn and develop, rather than securing results.
He said: “We knew none of our games would be easy, we wanted that to be proven.
“Each game has tested some part of us in a way that we can go away, improve and make sure we are a better team because of it.
“Obviously, it is about the process of working towards games which hold more importance, but we still want to have the mentality of trying to win each game.
“We are bedding new players into the club, playing in a new system and have yet to be able to get all appropriate players together for a game.
“Those bits will naturally all add to what we are doing, when they are there.”
With the pre-season period drawing to a close, City now only have Doncaster Rovers left in their wake.
The tie will be held at Eccleshill United’s Mitton Group Stadium on Sunday September 6 - 14 days prior to the ‘Big Kick Off 2020’.
Newly-appointed COVID officer Chris Routledge has been working tirelessly with club colleagues and league officials to ensure the female Bantams are prepared for their first home encounter.
Routledge noted: “Preparing for football after lockdown has been fairly straightforward, thanks to a lot of guidance from the FA, the Women's National League and the West Riding FA.
“All clubs have had various risk assessments in place prior to the threat of COVID-19, as well as completing the specific risk assessment of contracting and spreading coronavirus.
“Coaches and players were all desperate to get back on the pitch, therefore they are all taking precautions and care to follow simple measures which are put in place.
“These include self-screening checks prior to training and matches, strict sanitising methods and, of course, track and trace.
“Things like these, along with many others, are vital for all clubs - so football can go ahead in a relatively safe environment.”
Player recruitment is also ongoing, with the club announcing the arrival of Caitlyn Douglas from Sheffield FC and confirming the signing of Sophie Hawkins - who initially joined at the end of February.
On top of these two additions, further signings are expected to be made in the coming days, along with updates on the club’s 2019/20 retained list.
One of the measures City currently have in place to counter additional expenses is the launch of a fundraising-partnership raffle - alongside their new streamlined player-sponsorship package.
The raffle offers supporters and businesses the opportunity to become a club partner for just £20. More details on this scheme can be found on Bradford City Women's social media channels.
City are also on the lookout for player and club sponsors. For further information, please contact club secretary Matthew Kermode by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.