Lisa Topping: Loving The Return To Football

Impetus has been hugely privileged to be able to sponsor Lisa Topping of Chorley Women (pictured above in a late spring friendly against Chester by John Shirras) from the FA Women’s National League Division One North this season. In this our final catch up of 2020/21, Lisa tells us about how the re-start of football went for her in Lancashire.

“Finally on the pitch we’ve trained in person twice a week and played a run of friendlies which has been great. It’s been a really good opportunity to be back together as a team and spend some time kicking a ball before pre-season starts in July. In such a short time we’ve really grown and developed as a team showing both individual and team improvements throughout,” explained Lisa, who was clearly overjoyed to be able to be playing for Chorley again.

“Off the pitch, not much has changed in terms of working and walking the dogs…except the better weather we’ve been having is a nice and welcomed change!” 

After so long in lockdown, Lisa highlighted just what it was like to finally return to train. “The first session back was like waking up for Christmas morning. We were all buzzing to see each other again. Team banter and friendships are something special so to be able to reconnect after a long spell of virtual meetings was brilliant. 

“Ben Gooding and the rest of the management team were very aware that we needed to kick a ball and that’s what we did! We weren’t run in to the ground for no reason, instead we did technical work that built up fitness in itself. And this tactic has shown, where our fitness has improved but our football skills have too.” 

With the lockdown periods now hopefully behind us, Lisa reflected how the last 18 months or so has changed her.

“As a person who is family oriented, it’s been really challenging being apart from my family and not having the same social connectedness we usually have. Similarly with football, it’s always been a central element of my life and part of how I define myself and not having that ability to play has been difficult. I think until you lose something, you don’t necessarily fully appreciate it. And lockdown has definitely made me so much more appreciative of both my family and my football. Possibly two things I’ve taken for granted since they’ve never been restricted.”

Lisa had a good run of form in Chorley’s games when football was able to return, being named as players’ player of the match in one of them. 

“I’ve been pleased with my form in the games. I was apprehensive at first about being rusty in game like scenarios but that soon went away after the first pass or tackle. Ben and management are really supportive and focused on development and I think that training style has really helped me improve aspects of my game. There’s a culture at Chorley of not being afraid to make mistakes and that lack of pressure really helps just enjoy playing the game.

Above: Lisa calm on the ball under pressure against Chester recently. Photo: John Shirras.

“I think we’ve done well in the games post lockdown. Two of those were against teams in our league (Bradford City and Liverpool Feds) and we had solid performances. We lost to Bradford but took tons of positives to build on in to next season and we won against Liverpool Feds who compete for the top spots in our league, so we were happy. Management have ensured that everyone has had minutes during this time too so it’s been a full squad effort. The club is doing something right because it’s worth noting that four of our U18s stepped up and played minutes with the first team during these games, demonstrating that progression is coming through.”

With there being a short break now before the traditional pre-season regime kicks in, Lisa is keen to build on the progress of the last six weeks or so of training and matches.

“I intend to get back into a running/fitness regime for the month we have off so we can keep building on the progress we’ve made. I also intend to make sure I spend my weekends wisely as football season limits how much we do so I envision a camping trip will be on the cards as well as maybe some mini breaks locally.” 

With the FA recently announcing the outcome of promotion applications for next season, Lisa highlighted how it will impact Chorley in terms of the shape of the FAWNL Division One North.

“We’ve recently heard that Brighouse Town have been promoted from our league and into the FAWNL Northern Premier. It’s very much deserved for them as they’ve always been a top contender and we wish them all the best in the league above. 

“Then, a local team in FC United of Manchester are coming into the league as well as Alnwick Town, which is a long six hour round trip for us. But hopefully spectators are back allowed then so I can enjoy the ride whilst my Dad drives!”

Everyone at Impetus looks forward to following Lisa and Chorley on their journey in the FAWNL Division One North next season.

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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