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West Ham Women step up to the big time with mouthwatering opener

PUBLISHED: 09:30 17 August 2018

West Ham Ladies

West Ham Ladies

WHUFC

Mighty Arsenal provide stiff opposition this Sunday

Karen Ray and Jack SullivanKaren Ray and Jack Sullivan

A new coach and a whole host of quality signings may make you think about the West Ham men’s team, but we are talking about the women who kick-off their new season over the weekend.

And for general manager Karen Ray these are exciting times as the team go into Sunday’s League Cup clash with giants Arsenal.

“It has been very busy and it is very exciting as we get close to the start of the season,” she said.

“There have been enormous changes. The new coach Matt Beard has come in and got everything organised and the new players have bonded well together.

Brooke Hendrix of West Ham womenBrooke Hendrix of West Ham women

“We have a superb new facility at Rush Green exclusively for the women which is great,” said Ray. “It makes the squad want to come in early and stay late and that has helped the new players to get to know everyone else.

“We have an Xbox in there so we want to make sure the men don’t get in there and use it!”

Pre-season has gone well for the Hammers with a 5-0 win over Lewes last weekend competing their preparations.

“Our players have worked really hard and Matt has sorted out the defence first and now we are looking at our attack,” said Ray. “ Everything is ready.”

Leanne Kiernan of West Ham ladiesLeanne Kiernan of West Ham ladies

This will be a huge test for West Ham in their first season as a professional club and their first campaign against the big girls of the Women’s Super League.

So how will the Hammers fair this season?

“I think it will take time for the players to get a relationship on the pitch,” said Ray.

“We are under no illusions that we can’t win the league, we probably won’t be at our best until November or December, so if we can finish in mid-table that will be a success.”

So who should we be looking out for amongst the West Ham squad?

“I think Leanne Kiernan has been great since she arrived from Ireland. She was a farmer, so I have never had calls from the press coming from farming magazines before which has been interesting.

“Brianna Visalli has been good, while I have also been impressed by Brooke Hendrix.”

Things are being taken very seriously at Rush Green. They have a new fitness coach in Paul Parker and with a host of Super League and FA Cup winners among the squad, hopes are high.

“We are very grateful to the senior team for supporting us financially,” said Ray. “Jack Sullivan (chief executive) has been brilliant at what he is doing with the finances, but the club have certainly backed us.”

It will be a baptism of fire for the Hammers on Sunday when they begin their League Cup campaign with a trip to Boreham Wood FC to play mighty Arsenal.

“It will be a big test for us and for me as they are my old team. They are the epitome of what we want to be as a club in a couple of years,” said Ray.

The first game at Rush Green will be against Lewes in the league cup on August 26, while the Super League starts on September 19 against Reading.

“We want to get as many people at Rush Green to watch us and I think they will be impressed by what they see. I think women’s football is about to explode in this country,” said Ray. “We are selling season tickets for £15, so hopefully we can attract over a thousand people to the games.”

While there are high hopes for the men’s team this season despite a tough start, with all their new players, the women are hoping to make a huge impact too.

Why not give them a go and see what they have to offer?

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