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.

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