Brighton & Hove Albion defender Laura Rafferty is relishing the Seagulls’ first campaign in the top flight of women’s football and believes it’s a challenge everyone at the club can embrace.
Hope Powell’s side begin their season with a game away to Chelsea in the FA WSL Continental Tyres Cup on Sunday afternoon, and Rafferty believes the team are ready for the football to get underway.
She said, “It’s been a long time coming but we’re all really excited now – both individually as players and as a team.
“Pre-season has been the toughest one that I’ve had to face, but we know that it will stand us in good stead for the campaign ahead.
“We’ve had to get through it and it’s been enjoyable but now we want to get the league started and it’s something that we can all embrace as a football club.”
The team spent time out of the country in July during their preparations for the new season, and the Northern Ireland international reflected on the team's trip abroad.
“The Portugal trip was one of the main features of the close season for us – the hot weather made it difficult but the team around you and the staff always make it a lot easier.
“We know the work was needed because of the quality of opposition we’ll face this year and it’s good we have that under our belts now.
“We had a lot of new players arrive too, so they engaged with us and we’re all coming together well as a group.”
The side will be competing in the restructured FA WSL for the first time in the club’s history, and Rafferty reflected on what lies ahead in the division this season.
“The competitiveness of the league will be higher this year – we know we’ll be underdogs in some matches now, but our aim is always to win every game we play.
“We know we have to have that mindset, but we know that every aspect will be tougher this year – we’ll be looking to face that though and it’s a challenge we’re all ready for.”