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In Conversation With Qasim Akhtar




Here we are back with another installment of the 'In Conversation' series and this time rather than chatting to a player we got to chat to Bradford City Women's chairman Qasim Akhtar. Qasim was working in a bit of a general manager role at the beginning of the season but has since stepped into the chairman role for the club. It was great to chat to someone who has seen the team grow on the pitch and then transitioned into a different role as he has seen different side of the club. So here is how our conversation with Qasim went... 

EOTA : How did you end up getting involved in the club?

Qas : I initially came in as the U9’s coach for the junior set up, back in 2016. After spending two seasons undertaking that role and supporting the running of the set-up, I stepped in as Head of Juniors when the junior set up transitioned across to the Community Foundation at the Club. At the start of 2021 calendar year, Bradford City Women merged with Bradford City FC Community Foundation and Bradford City Girls, resulting in the re-branding of the club to Bradford City AFC Women. I now sit as the Chairman for the club and still coach the U14’s side, who compete in the local boys league.


EOTA :We have seen progress since Chris Hames took charge, what is it like working alongside him? 


Qas : I’ve got a very good, open, and honest relationship with Chris. We speak almost on a daily basis, which is probably more than he’s used to with Chairmen he’s worked with in the past, but I’m keen to ensure he has everything he needs to support the progression of Bradford City AFC Women. We were a little short staffed in the coaching department at the start of the season, so Chris asked me to step in as a first team coach on an interim basis, which I really enjoyed. Working alongside him on the pitch has allowed me to gain a better understanding of where we are at as a club with first team matters on the field, and ultimately, I love coaching so working with the players was enjoyable. After Gaz steadied the U23’s ship, I was keen to move him up to the first team and progress Stephen from the U16’s into the 23’s lead coach role. 


EOTA : We are seeing a big push to get fans in the ground for this game vs Newcastle United and future games, if anyone is unsure about spending their Sunday afternoon watching the team what do you say to them? 


Qas : I’ve always been a fan of going out and watching live games. The women’s game in general is growing and with the Euro’s being hosted here this year, now is the time to get involved. Especially with game like this Sunday’s, against Newcastle United, the standard of football is very entertaining to watch. I’d encourage anyone who is wanting a football fix over the weekend to get across and watch the game.



EOTA : The last time City were at home in the league was the Leeds game, how much do you think being back home is going to benefit the team?


Qas : Playing at home is always nice, especially when we get a few fans through the gate. Playing our last home game at Valley Parade was fantastic and the atmosphere the crowd generated really did push us over the line against a top Leeds team. We’re working hard behind the scenes to increase our attendances and I’m hoping for a three-figure crowd from this Sunday onward. 


EOTA : We are entering the second half of the season with a lot of games still remaining on the schedule, what are you hoping from the team for the remainder of the season? 


Qas : It sounds very cliché, but it really is a game-by-game mentality. There’s no hiding our place in the league table, and we know what we need to do to put that right, but staying in this league and building a foundation for next season is the aim. We’ve got a decent number of games in hand on the teams around us, obviously we’ve got to win these, but we’re right in there to climb up the table. Performances have been and are improving; we speak a lot about trusting the process and that’s exactly where I’m at with it. 



EOTA : The club are still in the West Riding Cup and we saw them progress well in the FA cup, are you hoping to see more progress from them in cups next season, especially the FA cup where they could end up facing some big names or is the league going to be a big priority to climb further up the table? 

Qas : I’m a big believer in momentum in football, whether you’re winning games in the cup or the league, winning is a good habit to get into. Our FA Cup run came to a disappointing end after a very poor performance against Chorley, obviously I’d like to see us progress in the competition next season and hopefully get a big-name draw. I’m really pleased with our progress in the County Cup and our performance against Farsley Celtic Juniors on Sunday was a very professional one. We’ve got Leeds in the semi-final next month and I’m looking forward to that game, it will be a very good test to see how we are progressing. 


So there you go that was how our conversation with Bradford City Women's chairman Qasim Akhtar went, it is great with how involved Qasim has been in the role since joining his roles with the women's club, we have had plenty of chats with him in the past and his passion for improving the club is definitely there and I am looking forward to seeing how the club progresses with him as chairman. 

Don't forget there are plenty more interviews coming from the Bradford City Women's team & management but who else would you like to see us chat to in the 'In Conversation' series? Anyone from your supported club? Let us know as we would love to get more people & clubs involved in this series.

In Conversation With Charlotte Stuart


Once again we are back with another installment of the 'In Conversation' series and we have had the chance to ask Bradford City Women's player Charlotte Stuart a few question as the team build up to their first home league game in a long time. It has been a long time since we saw City in the league at Eccleshill although we have seen them at home for a few cup games in the meantime. For us Charlotte Stuart has been a standout player since we started watching the team, she always gives it her all and covers a whole lot of the pitch to help get City into some dangerous positions whilst also grabbing goals for herself in the process. So here is how our conversation with Charlotte went... 

EOTA : It has been a while since the last home league game, what difference if any does it make playing at home? 

Charlotte : Being at home certainly helps with match day routines and us knowing the pitch, and for our juniors being able to come and support. The home crowd always gives you that extra push!


EOTA : You have been a key feature in the squad this season grabbing a few goals for yourself in the process, how do you feel the season is going for the team?

Charlotte : The season has certainly had its ups and downs already and more of the downs that we would like, we certainly haven't being playing at our potential so that has been frustrating. 

EOTA : You have been at City for a while now and have worked with a fair few managers, what has it been like so far with Chris Hames in charge? 

Charlotte : I have a good relationship with Chris he's a really good guy. From the start he was keen to make the club as professional as possible and consistently looking to improve and rebuild to where we feel the team should be. 


EOTA : The team got the chance to play the big derby game vs Leeds at Valley Parade earlier this season, how did it feel playing in the same stadium as the men do? 

Charlotte : Yes it was nice to be back on the pitch, we usually have the privilege to play the last game of our season on the pitch but with the breaks due to COVID it's been a while since we have been on there. It certainly made it a good occasion and help us get the win!

EOTA : You have played in plenty of games over the years but what would you say has been your favourite? 

Charlotte : I would have to say when we first won the county cup in 2014 we had been close for a while and it was a big focus for us.


EOTA : Women's football is on the rise in the UK and with us hosting the Euros later this year we are bound to see a lot more interest in the game. For anyone of any age wanting to start playing what advice would you give them? 

Charlotte : There are so many opportunities for all ages to get involve so certainly contact your local club and they can point you in the right direction. For the youngsters I would say firstly enjoy your football and have a ball at your feet at every opportunity!!

So there you have it that was our conversation with Bradford City's Charlotte Stuart. I am really looking forward to seeing how Stuart can help City progress in the second half of this season as I believe she is going to be a key player in any progress the club do make. 

There are plenty more interviews coming from the Bradford City Women's team & management but who else would you like to see us chat to in the 'In Conversation' series? Anyone from your supported club? Let us know as we would love to get more people involved in this series.

Have We Seen Progress From Bradford City Women So Far This Season?

 

This season has seen Bradford City Women begin to make an impact on the pitch and start getting those points they deserve as well as have a good cup run which is great for us fans who have seen the team struggling in recent years. 

The 2018/2019 season saw Bradford City Women relegated into the FAWNL Division 1 North from the Northern premier Division after a season that saw them pick up 0 points and finish with a -128 goal difference. Maybe the drop down a league was just what they needed to be able to regroup however, that following season didn't really go to plan either with the pandemic taking hold during the 2019/20 season the league ended up voiding results and the season ended before the team could hit the ground running under new Manager Chris Hames. Hames took over towards the end of 2019 and his first game in the City dugout saw City narrowly defeated 1-0 by a fifth place Liverpool Feds side which already showed the progress they were making under his management and training style. It is a shame that season was cut short as I really do believe we could have seen the team come together and get the results they wanted if they had the consistency of regular games. Before Chris was appointed after every game you could see how defeated the team felt but since he has come in they seem to keep their heads up for much longer and fight to claw back a result which just goes to show the turn around he has created. 

I think if that season hadn't been cancelled we would have seen them climb the table but it just wasn't meant to be. I don't know what Chris had the team doing during the pandemic but when the 2020/21 season kicked off you could see the team looked more put together and like they were ready to give the season their all but once again that season was cut short thanks to the pandemic and the team only got to compete in 4 games, this time though they ended up with 3 draws and 1 loss which showed they were definitely stepping it up a gear it is just a shame we again didn't see a full season from the league as I think we could have ended up with a good run of results. 

Moving onto this season (2021/22) we seem to be back to a normal fixture list and the season is progressing nicely. As it stands Bradford are currently 10th in the league with 7 points however, so far they have only played 8 games so have quite a few games in hand on those teams around them, if they can capitalise on these games in hand they are bound to keep climbing the table to avoid relegation. With it being a while since City have played a league game it is going to be interesting to see how they fair up with the teams at their level once more but I believe that since the start of the season we have definitely seen them up their game and show us all what they are capable of, just take the game at Valley Parade vs Leeds for an example, we certainly went into that as the underdogs but came out as 1-0 winners after playing a very good game, more performances like that and we are bound to see City climbing the table and causing a few upsets along the way. 

With the amount of games left this season it is definitely going to be interesting to see how the remainder of the season progresses but I think with how things are going at the moment we are going to be in for an exciting few months although no doubt they could be a bit nerve-racking too as there are still a few tough opponents to face but I am sure we can put up a good fight against them all and prove that we deserve to be in that league. 

Since Hames came into the picture there has definitely been improvement and now lets just hope the consistency of games can create more progress and a good run of form so that we get to see the team pick up more points before the end of the season and get higher in the table like they deserve. 

Our Current Favourite Manchester United Players

This is normally a post that I like to write however, this time around it has been one I have been dreading writing up until now as Manchester United are nowhere near the standard they should be at although after Ole's departure we are seeing a bit more progress from the team and some players are suddenly starting to perform once again which is frustrating because why couldn't they just do this all along and we would be doing a lot better in the table and be in a much better position and not chasing our tails. It has actually been quite hard to pick favourite players this season thanks to the poor performances but there are a few players who have stood out to me personally and those are... 


The past few seasons I haven't really been a fan of De Gea however, he really seems to stepped up a bit this season I am not sure if that is due to the other 'keepers waiting in line or just due to him realising that the past few seasons weren't his best. He has pulled off some great saves lately and has been a key player for us this season in my eyes. It has been nice to see him step up lately and let's hope he continues to play as he is doing. 


Of course Ronaldo was going to be on this list, still to this day he is one of my all time favourite players and I am so glad he is back at the club. Even at the age he is at now he just doesn't seem to be slowing down and he is still putting in some fantastic performances. Ronaldo has saved Manchester United a fair few times this season and has clawed a few results back for them in crucial games. His ability to slot back into the Premier League has amazed me and I think he is just continuing to prove himself as the greatest in the world. 


I think an underrated player for a while now has been Mason Greenwood and as a young player I think he still has a lot to offer. Previous seasons haven't been great for him off the pitch and that carried on over to on the pitch performance in my eyes however, this season he seems to have stepped up a little bit for me and is starting to show the kind of player he is going to become. I think if he continues to be given a chance we are really going to see what Greenwood is capable of let's just hope things just keep going well for him.

So there you go it was definitely difficult to pick out the best of a bad bunch but let's hope with a new interim manager that the players start to perform as they are capable of and we finally see the club work its way back up the table. Things just haven't been good enough at the club in recent years but surely it is time for that to change now? 
 

New Year New Plans

 

Honestly it is safe to say 2021 has flown by in the blink of an eye and some how we are already starting the new year. 2021 was a year of growth over here at Edge of the Area and I am so proud of how far we have come once again however, we are definitely aiming even higher in 2022 to smash the goals we have set for ourselves and to bring our best content yet. Somethings will be staying the same as they always have done whereas a few things might be changing or become better than they were previously. The core of Edge of the Area is going to be very similar to before but as we move into the new year here is what we are hoping to bring to Edge of the Area as a whole... 

Match Previews 
We have been thinking of adding this to the site for a long time and with a bit more free time to focus on the site this is something we are really looking forward to adding to the site. We will be doing previews for both Bradford City men's & women's home games that we will be attending along with a few other games that we know we are going to be watching that week or weekend. What we might do is at the start of each week is put a poll up on social media to see what games people are interested in reading about, although if there is a game we are particularly interested in that will be added to the list straight away. 

Match Reports
Whichever games we do the match previews for we will be following those games up with match reports, obviously as previous the Bradford City women's ones will be in a fair bit of detail however, any other games could just be quick recaps rather than the full thing although if it has been a really good game it might go into a bit more detail. It is safe to say we are really enjoying doing the match reports so to be able to increase those will be fantastic. 

Play/Staff Interviews
It was great to interview a few more players and staff members in 2021 and we are really hoping to do a lot more interviews over the course of 2022. We want to include a lot more players and clubs into this rather than just sticking to the same clubs all over the time. Fingers crossed we can do these interviews in different formats over the course of the year rather than just having email chats with those that we are interviewing. 

Go To Watch Different Teams 
Over the course of 2022 we want to get to watch a variety of teams throughout the seasons rather than just sticking to Bradford games. There are a lot of different local clubs that we could be very easily going to watch when Bradford aren't at home and it would be nice to support the local lower league teams and give them a little bit of coverage. It will definitely be nice to mix up the types of games we attend next year. 

Euro 2022 Courage 
We managed to get all the tickets we wanted to for the women's Euro's that are being held here in England so there will be plenty of coverage of those games we are attending along with the build up and those games we have watched on the TV if we didn't have tickets. We will be doing reports, opinion pieces and also behind the scenes showing off the build up and atmosphere at those games we actually attend. 

Live Tweets 
Alongside the match reports and match previews we will also be trying to live tweet a fair few games each week, these might be games we have done previews on or they might be completely different games. What we are think is that at the start of the week we will put a poll up to cover the selection of games and then live tweet those games that win the polls. I think that the live tweeting is going to be fun and a bit different to how things have gone in 2021 and I am looking forward to seeing how this plays out over the course of the year. 

Instagram
In 2021 we were a bit hit and miss with Instagram as a whole however, in 2022 we are hoping to be a whole lot more active on the platform and update our feed a whole lot more. We will also be focusing on those Instagram stories a lot more and reader interaction so we will be adding in more polls and behind the scenes which I think will be fun to do and it will be great to get more people involved. We have invested in some editing software too so we will be putting that to use to make the quality of our graphics a whole lot better. 

Facebook
We might have been hit and miss on Instagram but we have seriously neglected our Facebook page. It is just out of pure laziness that we haven't been as active on Facebook as we should have been but that is going to change in 2022. There will be plenty of content coming to the page as we try to increase our following on the platform and engage those people a lot more. Facebook is definitely a platform we need to get back onto. 

Podcasts 
Finally everything is in place for us to begin the Edge of the Area podcast in 2022, I am not sure when that is going to be launched just yet but it will definitely be happening at some point in the year. We have the equipment we need to get going but we now just need to sort out a bit of a schedule for recording and editing then we will be good to. I am really looking forward to doing this as it has been planned for a long time and I think it is going to be a really fun thing to get up and running for 2022. 

More Shirts
We have really enjoyed talking about shirts on the site throughout 2021 and will be carrying on with them in 2022 however, they wont be dominating the site as much as they have done previously. We will be doing bits throughout the year and mainly be focusing on them as the new ones are released at the start of the season. The shirts posts will be scaled back but they wont be fully disappearing. 

Boot / Equipment Reviews
I am aiming to be back playing football a lot more regularly in 2022 so that will hopefully mean more boots and equipment reviews such as shin pads. I have done boot reviews in the past and really enjoyed doing them so it will be nice to add them back to the site as I am wearing them more often. I am really looking forward to playing more often and I am looking forward to trying new boots even more. 

Stadium Tours
We have been wanting to do stadium tours for a while but obviously the situation in the world has meant this hasn't been possible yet. Fingers crossed in 2022 we can finally make a start on a few of the stadium tours we have been wanting to do for a while. We wont just be sticking to the big teams stadiums though as we want to showcase stadiums at all levels to capture what it is like for the different times. 

Opinion Pieces / Player Fact Files 
Opinion pieces have been a bit hit and miss on the site lately but in 2022 we will be trying to do a few each month alongside our other content. We really enjoy the opinion pieces we do and I think we have a lot more to say as the seasons progress and new seasons begin. We have also been looking at doing some player fact file pieces too from players from various leagues around the world. I think it will showcase a few different players to people who haven't particularly heard of them before. We won't just be focusing on the big names we will be trying to get everyone involved. 

Weekly Round Ups 
We finally have good internet so we should be able to watch a lot more games from the WSL over on the FA Player alongside a lot more NWSL game so we are thinking of doing weekly round up posts especially work the NWSL like we used to do so that fans outside the USA have results in one place. We will also try to get WSL round ups done once a week with the results and a bit about any games we have watched. 

Merchandise
Finally 2022 is going to be the year that everything is up and running in terms of Edge of the Area merchandise. We have a very limited amount of shirts going on sale in the new year and we will also be beginning to sell various other items as the year progresses. We will be asking very soon what people will be interested in the most and releasing those bits before anything else.  At the moment it is just me, Liam and my nephew who are wearing the Edge of the Area items but I am looking forward to seeing other people in them in the future. Plus if the shirts sell well we will be getting more of those in. 

Fingers crossed 2022 goes to plan and we can improve a lot of these areas and have the best year for the site to date. A lot of these things have been in the pipeline for a long time and it is about time we got those ideas in the open and get working on them rather than them just sitting as notes on a piece of paper. 2021 was a great year but let's hope 2022 is even better. 

Let's hope for a fantastic year including a whole lot of football and even more football based content.