On 6 November 2016 when the SSE Scottish Women’s Cup was won by Hibernian Ladies, the players and the club were given the rest of November off, before starting to prepare forthe new season in December – despite it kicking off on Sunday 19 February of 2017.
Chris Roberts, Head Coach of Hibernian Ladies, explains that it is important that the girls that are part of the team to focus on training in strength in December due to there being no games to play.
He also believes that it is good for them to come into the pre-season in a good condition, which means that they will not have to undertake a lot of maintenance work and dusting off the cobwebs after such a long gap between the seasons.
On Thursday, the girls came back into training, preparing for pre-season matches against Heart of Midlothian, Hamilton Academical, Sunderland and Liverpool, before their defence of the Scottish Women’s Premier League Cup begins in February.
Chris said: “After winning the Scottish Cup, the girls got the rest of November off, then we started training again in December, but it wasn’t pre-season training.
“It’s just there so that when we come into pre-season training we’re not having to do a lot of maintenance work.
“The girls started on Thursday and will be in good condition and ready to go. They keep themselves really fit anyway.
“December is a good month for them to focus on strength and spending a little bit more time on gym work and power training.
“They can increase the number of strength sessions they do because there’s not any games at that time of the year. It’s just a little bit different from what I grew up getting used to where you take a break and come back in the middle of June for pre-season.”
During the close season, Amy Gallacher joined Hibernian Ladies from Forfar Farmington in December, with Chris an admirer of her quality, whilst also believing that she wil have learned a lot from Forfar’s relegation in 2016.
New signings are not a common occurrence for Hibernian Ladies, thanks to the strength of the academy that is in place at the club, which has also seen Ellis Notley and Shannon Leishman promoted into the first-team for 2017, after coming through the youth ranks.
With a majority of the squad that won the domestic cup double in 2016 coming through the academy, Chris was keen to praise the work of Alfie Smith and Connor Kirkland, who are both development coaches.
Chris said: “Amy is a player that we’ve been tracking and following for the last two years now – she’s a really exciting player.
“She’s done a great job at Forfar, who were really unlucky to get relegated last season. The time was right for her and for us in terms of making the move.
“I would never wish it upon anybody, but I think going through a relegation can grow you as a person in terms of the grittiness, determination and the character building, for me, that is a learning curve.
“She doesn’t need to change too much, and that’s the beauty of her quality, she loves getting on the ball in the attacking third, she’ll just need to get to terms with the way that we play and how we move the ball through the pitch.
“We don’t want to bring anybody in on a whim because we’ve got an incredible academy at the club.
“When we do bring in a player, it could be at the expense of an academy player, so we do really need to know that it’s the right fit because our academy is really important to us.
“The work that Alfie Smith and Connor Kirkland do with the Development Team is brilliant. It can actually be quite a thankless task sometimes being the “reserve team coach”, but what they both get massively is that they are probably in one of the most important positions at the club. “We take a lot of pride in our academy and Alfie and Conor deserve massive credit for the job that they do.
“If you look at the cup final, Jenna Fife has come through our academy, Clare Williamson has come through our academy, Siobhan Hunter, Joelle Murray and Kirsty Smith too – so that’s our goalkeeper and back four that all came through our academy.
“Lisa Robertson, Lizzie Arnot, Ellis Notley, Shannon Leishman, Morgan Turner and Cailin Michie all came through the academy too. So easily 60% or 70% of the players in the team have either come through our academy, and it’s something that we are really proud of as a club.
“We want to make sure that we’re not overlooking young players who understand what it means to play for Hibs. We want them to get the opportunity to progress with us and play for the first-team.”
Reported by Hibernian FC
Pictures: Hibernian FC