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Boswell: The Perfect Time to Have This Game
Friday, 22nd Mar 2024 10:41

Apart from the thrill of playing at Portman Road for the very first time, Town Women’s team captain Maria Boswell believes the timing of Saturday’s game against Chatham Town could not be better.

Defender Boswell will lead the side out for the historic occasion with brisk box office business guaranteeing a crowd of 8,500-plus, many of whom will be seeing the women, who normally play their home fixtures at Felixstowe & Walton’s AGL Arena, in action for the first time.

Asked how the team intended to take advantage of the interest sparked by the team among the local, 21-year-old Boswell said: “I think it’s the perfect time for us to have this game. I think it was a case of trying to figure out the appetite for coming to watch women’s games but we’ve seen since England won the Euros in 2022, the level of interest there is.

“We’ve seen clubs like Newcastle United, who are in our tier, sell out St James’s Park and we’ve seen Championship success and WSL success. We’ve realised that there is definitely an appetite and an interest in it, and that people do want to come and watch women’s football, so I think this is the perfect opportunity for us to play a game like this and the ticket sales support that view.

“I think the fact that our home ground is 25 minutes outside Ipswich can sometimes make it difficult for people to come and watch us on a Sunday, but being in the heart of Ipswich at three o’clock on a Saturday is the perfect opportunity for people who haven’t come to see us yet and to see the identity that runs through this football club.”

Boswell, who was previously on Arsenal’s books, addressed her role as captain as she continued: “We are quite a young side and even the more senior players in the team are still really young, so it’s a learning curve for me and players like Kyra [Robertson] and Pesk [Sophie Peskett] who are probably regarded as the most senior players in the team.

“It’s a learning curve to know how to navigate certain situations. We’ve had situations like that this year; it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for us as a team. Even the young ones are very mature for their age, so sometimes it’s the other way round.

“They’re around us and we’re around them – it’s just such a together group that we can all see when maybe one player in particular is struggling and we’re really good at coming together and recognising that, and hopefully just being a support for everyone, especially obviously the younger members of the team.”

Fans will be keen to see if striker Natasha Thomas, the women’s team’s all-time top scorer, can add to her impressive goal tally of 20 from 23 games this season and Boswell admitted: “I think a couple of the girls have discussed goal celebrations already. At the AGL we get a good crowd but sometimes it’s hard to do big celebrations, knowing it’s not a massive crowd there.

“So, a few of the girls have thought about it, but we don’t want to think too far ahead. It’s more about the occasion and what that means instead of the result and the goals etc. Hopefully they will come but that’s not in the forefront of our minds.”

Boswell will take to the Portman Road pitch with special mascot, eight-month-old Halle Sheehan, daughter of team manager Joe Sheehan. Little Halle was not only born a Town fan but also attended the early-season men’s team Championship victory over Stoke City when she was only two weeks old.

“She’s a very special mascot,” said Boswell. “I don’t have too many young people in my own family. I do have a little baby cousin, but he’s at the stage where he doesn’t want to be away from mum too much, so I didn’t know who I was going to have.

“You could say the decision was made by default. Joe messaged me and said ‘If you haven’t got anyone, I’d really love it if you walked out with Halle’.

“When she was born, me, Kyra and Sophie, who all lived together, all got her a little kit with DAD 1 on the back so she’ll be wearing that. It’s going to be a really special moment and I can’t wait.”

While the Town men’s team are in the thick of the promotion race, battling Leicester and Leeds for one of the automatic Premier League places, Boswell and her colleagues are intent on stepping up to the second tier after only losing out on goal difference last season.

Sadly, the current campaign has seen them fall short of their target, with Boswell admitting: “I would say it has been a frustrating season. I think we always start out at the beginning of a new season with a very clear aim and a clear goal that we will strive for.

“But football isn’t always on the up and I think in recent years, probably since Joe has come in, it has been a really upward trajectory and football’s not always like that.

“It was probably quite rare, the fact that things had been so positive, but as young players I think it’s important for us to experience difficult times and we’ve all learned a lot from it. It’s been disappointing and it’s been frustrating.

“There have been games on Sunday afternoons when you feel really rubbish, but that’s just football at the end of the day. 

“You’re going to lose games and you’re going to have seasons that don’t go the way you had planned. But we’re a young group, we’re really together and we’ve all got each other’s backs, and we’re now just preparing for next season. We want to go again and hopefully achieve what we’ve set out to achieve.

“We’ve got a lot of very exciting young players, like Lenna [Gunning-Williams] from Tottenham and Ruby [Doe] from Arsenal, and I’m sure they are going to go on and have amazing careers. We’ve also got exciting homegrown talent, like Pesk, and she’s definitely going to go on and have an exciting career.

“So, I think there are a lot of players that people are going to want to come and see. They are definitely ones for the future. For me, I just want to get as far as I can with Ipswich and do as well as I can with this club.

“Who knows what the future can hold in years to come, but I think our aim as a team is to develop and move up the pyramid as far as we can with Ipswich.

“I have a full-time job in marketing, which I started a couple of years ago when I decided to make the move to Ipswich. Obviously, football is always my main priority, and I look forward to coming into training every day. My main aim is to improve and develop as a player and in the coming years, hopefully, the club will be at a stage where we are able to go full-time and players won’t have to have jobs outside the game.

“I think that’s a step we could maybe make in a few years’ time and we’re working towards that. We’ve got to do what we can on the pitch to get to the next level and make it possible for ourselves.

“So, that’s what I do outside football and it’s full on, but there are women all over the country at every level, even in the Championship, that do that and it’s just part of it. It’s just what we have to do.”

Apart from wearing the Town colours, the women’s team members are also committed to the club’s Foundation, which was reformed as the Community Trust in 2019 and given greater impetus and its new title by the incoming ownership after they took charge three years ago.

Boswell added: “We’ve made a real effort to go out with the Foundation and provide tickets to grassroots teams and schools, and try to get as many young girls as possible at the games.

“It’s definitely very important that we kind of engage with them after the game and take as many photos as possible, which will be our aim on Saturday.

“The men’s team are great at going out on visits and being part of the community and we want to be a part of it as well. It’s important that we keep doing that and we’re always looking to be as involved in the community as possible.”

Full ticketing details for Saturday’s game can be found on the club website.

Photos: TWTD/Ross Halls

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SamWhiteUK added 10:46 - Mar 22
Any reason this isn't on TownTV? Fiver for a match pass would surely generate a few more quid?

Mark added 13:21 - Mar 22
I am looking forward to it, it should be a great occasion. The timing is perfect with the international break, and we should score a few goals. COYB.

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