Podcast Interview: Portsmouth Women’s Amelia Southgate and Rachel Panting

I’m sat today at the PMC Stadium, the home of Portsmouth Women to speak with two guests this week, the club captain Amelia Southgate and Rachel Panting.

Thom: Does it make a big difference playing at the same venue now that you’re no longer nomads?
Amelia: I think it makes a big difference. The pitch is amazing quality and actually having a pitch in Portsmouth makes a difference in terms in getting fans in.

Rachel: Yeah definitely, it’s great that it is signposted inside and outside of the stadium. It makes you feel part of the family and the club.

Thom: You don’t often see stadiums actively advertising that there is a women’s team sharing it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it? Pompey men’s is a well-supported club, do you think that you have to compete for fans or does it attract a completely different set of fans?
Amelia: I think that playing on a different day really helps. We get quite a lot of our fans that go to both. Many of the men’s season ticket holders will come and watch us on a Sunday and there is always room for more.

Rachel: Yeah I think it is difficult, women’s football is still growing as a game and it’s difficult to attract the same amount of fans of the men’s game but it’s on the up. Social media is massive for women’s game in terms of promoting it and making sure that people know who we are playing and when we are playing. Slowly but surely the numbers are going up.

Kerry Bartlett and Amelia Southgate both challenge for a ball.

Amelia Southgate. Photo: Mark Davies

How is the season going so far?
Rachel: I think to be fair if you ask any of our players and they said they weren’t slightly disappointed then they would probably be lying. At the start of the season when we looked at the individual talent that we had in the squad, a lot of people, not just ourselves but people outside of the club would have expected us to be in a much better position that we are in the moment. Although we’ve played well and had good performances in most of our games, we just haven’t carved out the results. I think that it will change. We’ve had a bit of bad luck during some of our games. Over the last couple of weeks the morale and desire to get back to winning ways has been really good.

Amelia: Yeah, I’d say that the desire has definitely been there. All of the squad will be disappointed with our position in the league. Looking at the talent and looking at the other teams in the league, all of us would have expected to be in a title race. Even looking at our performances we have performed well for the majority and it’s just been the ruthlessness at both ends that have cost us games.

Rachel Panting shoots against Loughbrough Foxes. Photo by Jordan Hampton

Rachel Panting. Photo: Jordan Hampton

Do you feel the pressure that as Portsmouth have done well previously that you have got to live up to that?
Amelia: I think that there is. We put a pressure on ourselves. We didn’t really know what to expect this season, previously the league has been quite predictable. You’ve known who’s been strong and what results to expect. After the changes of the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship, this season was a bit of an unknown. There was a lot of new teams in the league and a lot of player movement in the close season.

Rachel: The results have been quite inconsistent and a bit up and down. Neither of us were here during the golden days of Portsmouth Ladies as it was back then but I think it is more difficult. People have higher expectations and people put more pressure on you to get to the same level. I’ve certainly heard people say that there will never be a team as good as the former Portsmouth Ladies league winning side. However, you look at the way women’s football is progressing, each year you get youngsters coming through and the standard of coaching is getting better. I think year on year individual players are progressing so teams should be progressing also. I look at our club and the players we’ve got, we’ve got a massive chance to progress in the future. So long as everything goes in the right way and we do progress in the way that we hope then maybe this year won’t be our year but what’s to say that next year won’t.

Amelia: If you look at the players from the league winning team, they are now playing in the Women’s Super League and Women’s Championship. Obviously we want players to stay together and move forward as a club if we can be a platform to push players into the FAWSL and FAWC then that is part of our job as well.

Thom: I don’t think it’ll ever happen but even if you were known as a team that pushes players on then you’d definitely get better players from elsewhere.

Amelia: Yes, seeing Shannon Albuery at Yeovil Town Ladies is amazing.

If you want to hear more from Amelia, Rachel and Thom as they discuss this seasons Hampshire Cup and their record of winning it ten years in a row then you can listen and subscribe to the Since 71 podcast at since71.podomatic.com/rss2.xml. If you like what you hear then please share it with your friends and fellow supporters.

Thom Stone
stonethom@yahoo.co.uk