FOR any club to progress it must have players pushing for first-team selection and Argyle Ladies have just that in their Development team.
The Pilgrims won the South-West League Western Division last season but were denied promotion due to FA rules. It was a biter blow to Argyle who need their second team to be playing at a higher level, which makes the jump from second-team football to the first-team a less stressful transition. Thankfully, the rules have changed this season but Argyle still have to achieve promotion.
The changes keep coming for the Development team. After the summer and a massive turnover of players, there have been changes in the coaching set-up recently, as Ryan Lawton and Gary Bottomley have stepped up from the Under-18 side to work alongside manager Rob Bonney and goalkeeping Coach Dan Tecza.
The team started the season with a more youthful look about them, with the introduction of a group of 16 and 17 year-old players. They lost their opening three games by the odd goal but have bounced back with an unbeaten run since of eight league and cup matches, and currently top the division.
As the season progressed, they have introduced even more youngsters into the fray, but the good results have kept coming. Manager Rob Bonney said: “It’s been a difficult but rewarding period for the Development team, having to deal with the fall out of being denied promotion.
“The massive turnover of players in pre-season and the difficult start, to where we are at the moment, shows the set-up is where it should be now, with a youthful hungry group. These players need to establish themselves within the Development set-up and then set their sights to break into the first-team squad.
“We keep emphasising that this doesn't automatically happen, they need to work hard and, not just in training, but doing extra in their own time. As a team, our aim is to keep improving and moving forward, hence the change within the coaching-set up midway through the season.
“We are at the halfway point of the season and there is a positive vibe around the team but they are a very young group and are still learning the game in every match they play. The system is working well with some of the girls already being called into the first-team or even gaining experience by being asked to train with them.
“We are happy with the progress and where we are at present but we need to keep setting our targets high as individuals and as a team.”