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Arsenal: How are the club increasing support for the women’s team?

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It’s been a big day of news for Arsenal fans. Following the appointment of Jonas Eidevall as head coach, the club’s chief executive Vinai Venkatesham discussed a number of key improvements set to be made around the women’s team.

Venkatesham explained how Arsenal embarked on a review of its women’s team last year, identifying key areas that could be improved on. Operations director Hywel Sloman led the review process, which also used both internal and external experts.

A number of changes are set to be made following the review. With Arsenal finishing third in the Women’s Super League last season, noticeably inferior to rivals Chelsea and Manchester City, fans will be hoping the changes make a difference on the pitch. 

GiveMeSport Women runs through the main talking points.

Increase in backroom staff and improved facilities

Venkatesham discussed how the backroom staff for the women’s team had been significantly bolstered.

“For example, we’ve significantly increased and enhanced the backroom staff that support our women’s team, so we’re bringing on board a new head of sports medicine and sports science, we’ve increased the staff in our medical team, we’ve brought on board a nutritionist, we’ve created a new individual development coach role, we’ve brought on more operations staff,” he said.

“We’ve really changed the set-up behind the scenes quite significantly to make sure our players have everything they need to be successful on the pitch.”

The chief executive also revealed plans to build a facility specifically for the women’s team at the club’s training ground in London Colney.

“When Jonas joins us at the start of pre-season this year, we’re going to be sitting down with him and some of the players, and also sitting down with the staff for a really exciting new project, which is going to be to build a new women’s football building here at London Colney. It will be giving the women’s team the right kind of set-up here to deliver the ambitions that we have going forward.”

Unification of men and women’s teams

Arsenal Women will now be overseen by Rich Garlick, the club’s director of football operations.

“Arsenal Women will now report into Rich Garlick, our director of football operations, who reports into Edu Gaspar. The purpose of that is to bring our academy, our men’s football operation and our women’s football operation even closer together than they have been before, so we’re really going to be able to unlock some of the synergies between those teams,” Venkatesham explained.

“We’ll use some of the technology, some of the analytic platforms, that we use for our men’s team in women’s football to help drive women’s football forward.”

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Retaining players and buying new stars

Despite rumours striker Vivianne Miedema would leave the club this summer, the Dutch star looks set to stay for at least one more season. Arsenal fans were further bolstered by defender Leah Williamson signing a new contract with the North London team this month.

Vinai Venkatesham admitted the retention of integral players was a key strategy for the women’s team, but he also suggested new signings would be made.

“We’ve got a great group of players and of course we’re busy this transfer window trying to strengthen the team even more. But of course just as important as bringing in new players is retaining key players. I’m absolutely delighted that Leah has extended her contract with us.”

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Playing matches at the Emirates

Fans have been desperate to see Arsenal Women play at the Emirates, the home of their male counterparts. It now seems as if the team will play “a number” of games at the stadium, with Venkatesham giving more details.

“It’s been a busy time in the close season and one of the things we’ve been spending a lot of time on the Arsenal Women’s side is thinking about how we can bring a number of women’s games to Emirates Stadium next season. The purpose there is clear. The purpose is to allow more Arsenal fans to have the opportunity to watch Arsenal Women play live at Emirates Stadium.”

The full interview with Vinai Venkatesham can be found here.

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