Ascot United Women will begin their tenth Women’s FA Cup campaign when they travel to Milton United and we caught up with manager Darrel Evans to reflect on the decade long journey.
The team have gone from strength to strength as they get ready to kick off their 2022/23 campaign and Darrel still feels exactly the same, ten years on, “I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since we were first able to compete in the competition, who doesn’t love the FA Cup. It is always a buzz to see the draw, and if you’re lucky enough to get through, then the excitement of Monday’s draw for the next Round.”
Times have changed and so have the ambitions of Ascot, “10 years ago, it was just a privilege to be in the competition but all these years on our expectations have changed and we want to keep improving and try to reach the First Round Proper again and further if we can in the coming years”.
Whilst the format of the competition itself hasn’t changed that much, it’s good to see the intentions of the FA, “To be honest very little has changed as regards to the competition itself, maybe we are seeing more coverage in the earlier rounds through social media and I guess you can say in the later rounds with the TV coverage”. There are so many more eyes on the game now and the women’s game is rightly sharing the spotlight, “the final being at Wembley added to the growth of the professional game people are more aware of the Women’s FA Cup. The big change this season is the huge increase in the prize funds which is fantastic and will help so many clubs to develop”.
The FA Cup can present a unique opportunity for a manager and the excitement has never dulled “I just love the excitement of it, it’s strange because realistically we are not going to get anywhere near winning it, but when it’s pointed out to you if we went two rounds further last season, we would have faced Man United at the Racecourse, then you realize what the Cup can bring.”
And though Darrel may have never made it big himself, the opportunity he is able to present to the team and the Yellawomen of the future is enough to make a manager proud, “I never reached the levels to play in the FA Cup. So to see the opportunity and excitement of the players to play in the competition, especially the players who started their football journey through Ascots youth section and we can say we have given these players the pathway to play in the Women’s FA Cup is something I’m proud to be part of”.
Up the Yellas!