Spurs Ladies Reserves 'deserve all their success'
PUBLISHED: 16:14 13 May 2017 | UPDATED: 11:21 14 May 2017
©Ying Pan Wu , Wu's Photography, wusphotography.com
Boss Lakhani hails treble-winning squad
Manager Ak Lakhani says the treble-winning Tottenham Ladies Reserves “deserve everything they have achieved” in a tangible season of success, which has seen them triumph in the Reserves FA Women’s Premier League South, National League Cup and Capital Women’s Cup.
A solitary defeat from 29 games in all competitions is evident of the desire flowing throughout the Lilywhites’ young squad and Lakhani, now in his third year taking the reigns, remained humble in the assessment of the impact he’s had and couldn’t be more proud of the feat achieved – having come close twice before.
He said: “Words can’t even describe how happy I am for my team, my coaching staff and the club. It’s a great, great achievement, and as a whole, the girls have been outstanding.
“The support we’ve had from the other coaching staff, from the first team to the development has been great, as well as the coaching staff that were here before me.
“A lot of these girls have been here from a young age, since they were 10 years old and have stuck with it and come up – and having that blend with the girls who are a little bit older has helped us to achieve our success.
“We’ve come close to this feat in the previous two seasons that I have been reserve-team manager, but this year everything just fell into place. No disrespect to the players that have left, but the ones that have come in have been outstanding, as well as the younger players stepping up.
“Having that blend of experience and youth, technical ability, as well remaining psychologically strong helped us to progress.
“The fact that we only lost once this season, just showed how hungry the girls were to come home with some trophies. That’s fully down to the girls, because at the end of the day they go and play, as soon as they cross that white line our job is done – I cannot be happier.”
Belief is a word which has deep meaning for Lakhani, whose trust instilled in his players has seen them come on leaps and bounds – with some going on to become youth starlets for their countries – and it’s no surprise for a coach whose philosophy is “if you’re good enough, you’re old enough”.
He continued: “We’ve got wonderful players coming through our youth teams and also our college academy. I think every single one of our players who is under 18 and 19 made their first-team débuts this season in the Boux Avenue Cup.
“Kelly Smith made her first-team début against Cardiff, she’s also been called up for the England Colleges. Sophie Tudor’s a player that’s stepped up from the under-16s – she’s had an England Under-17 camp invite and she’s made a position she’s never played in before her own. Giorgina Baldwin, another fantastic young player, captain of the under-16s last year has come in and been outstanding and that’s credit to them.
“I’m always fond of younger players that can always develop and push on. The experience and maturity I’ve seen since August all the way through to now, is amazing. The only way is up for these girls and I’ll back them all the way – and hopefully they can push for first-team regular spots in the up and coming seasons.”
The boss also shed light on the coaching staff which have laid the foundations for the development of the younger players who are now striving – and winning trophies – at senior level.
He added: “When you go to work and you’re working alongside people who are pretty much like your family, it doesn’t feel like work. We are all in this together – I’ve been here for four years, and when things weren’t going so great to see how they are now – that’s down to having a strong work force.
“My team in particular that have been with the reserves this season – Shaun (Harris), a fantastic coach, I’ve learnt bundles off him, he’s stepped up from the development. Ghab (Ghabriel Teles) another young lad who I actually coached a year before has come in and been an outstanding assistant coach. Vikki (Mennell) a fantastic physio, she’s come in and kept our players intact and kept them playing – but I think one of the main boys in my eyes, and is like a brother to me is JoJo (Clarke). This year unfortunately he wasn’t about as much, but I dedicated a lot of this season to him.
“Without him, a lot of our success in the senior and youth set-up wouldn’t be possible, so big credit to him along with the boss Karen (Hills), Juan (Amoros, first-team head coach), Anton (Blackwood, strength and condition coach), Sarah (Budd, phsyio) and all the goalkeeper coaches – Luke (Sheldrick) and Aaron (Tillbrook). The development coaches, Ben (Hart) and Jerome (Baker), who are also producing fantastic young players who are ready for our set-up.
“It’s all-inclusive, we have a great media team, performance analyst – it’s a big team but we’re a successful team because we’ve got that unity, and I think that’s credit to every single person involved.”