AFC Bournemouth and BU link
Bournemouth University and AFC Bournemouth’s partnership has proven to be a huge success in the recent years with many of our Bournemouth University Ladies Football club players linking with the AFC Bournemouth Ladies First Team to become regular starters. The AFC Bournemouth Ladies First team currently have 7 BU graduates and undergraduates as part of their starting squad this season. Most of these players have filtered through to AFC Bournemouth from the strong ties with the BU Ladies Football Club. The newest member to join AFC Bournemouth Ladies is Ana Hnatiw, a recent BU graduate, who represented the university throughout her 4 years as an undergraduate. She gave us her account of her transition from BU to AFC Bournemouth.
“My name is Ana Hnatiw, I play as centre back for AFC Bournemouth Ladies and have recently graduated from Bournemouth University. Having played football from a young age I was determined to continue playing through my university years and became a member of the performance team at BU, this became one of the most enjoyable and integral parts of my study experience. I was lucky enough to represent BU throughout my degree and felt tremendously proud each time I wore the shirt coupled with a sense of togetherness from my team. Particular highlights of my time with BULFC are winning the BUCS league and the brilliant opportunities provided by the link with AFCB, such as playing at the Vitality stadium and enjoying breakfast with some of the men’s first team players. Having recently finished my degree at BU, like most graduates, I was unsure of what was to come, however I was certain that I wanted to continue playing football and knew I would miss that competitive spark. I was aware of the women’s set up at AFCB due to the partnership I had experience during my time playing for the university, and it felt most fitting to attend trails with AFCB after I had finished Uni. Although I was aware of this ladies’ team whilst at BU, I felt that during university study I was juggling many responsibilities and I could not fully commit to playing for AFCB, especially within my final year. When I left university this year I was excited at the prospect of being able to fully invest into the AFCB team and continue playing football. I joined AFCB during pre-season training of this summer, I felt immediately welcomed and a part of the team. Steve Davis, the coach, showed an interest in my football background from the start and had me play a new position, in which he coached me through and that I now feel comfortable and confident in. The season so far with AFCB has been one of the most enjoyable, competitive and exciting starts to the season I have ever had. Even though I have only recently joined this team, I get that great feeling of pride and togetherness when I wear the shirt every week and am honoured to be part of such a brilliant set up and to play alongside such a great group of people as well as players. The partnership between BU and AFCB was influential in my transition out of university football, however, this link has not only been beneficial for myself and other players, but has created a pathway for young female coaches to work in a professional football club developing their coaching ability and the skills of the young female athletes in the AFCB girls set up.”
The current AFC Bournemouth Ladies First Team predominantly consists of BU graduates who, like Ana, joined the club after their university career had ended. Terri Harvey however, is the current BU captain, juggling both BU and AFC Bournemouth commitments as well as completing her second year in Sport Psychology and Coaching Sciences degree.
“Before I moved to Bournemouth I knew I wanted to join a team as soon as I got there so I searched for teams in the area and AFCB was local and of a good standard. I emailed the head coach regarding a trial with the team when I moved down and at this point I was unaware that there was a link between AFCB and BU. It was only after the first couple of sessions that became aware that there were currently and previous BULFC players in the AFCB team which was really good to see that there were opportunities to play for both and that I wouldn’t be restricted to just one of the teams. Within my year with AFCB we have been promoted and won the Invitation cup final which was fantastic. The coaches at AFCB are understanding if I have to miss a training session due to an away BUCs fixture and are flexible around my needs as a player which is great because if I feel like I’m doing too much they take into consideration the amount of extra training I do at university.
I always knew I wanted to play football at university coming from a college football academy previously where I trained and played every day along with my studies, it was definitely something I didn’t want to stop doing. And as a player, it has helped me tremendously as I am continuing to train and improve on my game every day. Being a part of BULFC this past year has made my university experience amazing and the fact that there’s a crossover between AFCB and BU creates a great cohesion as I am playing with a few BU grads at AFCB who have gone through the whole university – football experience too!”
The partnership has been hugely beneficial for both teams by not only providing a pathway for BU graduates to continue playing football in the Bournemouth area, but to also give opportunities for current BU athletes to be a part of a fast growing elite environment.
You can see the current AFC Bournemouth Ladies squad here: https://www.afcb.co.uk/teams/ladies#Goalkeepers