Brighton: Bonding and beach volleyball as Hope Powell's team prepare for the new Women's Super League season

Building togetherness and team spirit is an important part of pre-season at any club, and it’s no different at Brighton Women

The Seagulls let the Sky cameras in over the summer ahead of this week’s Women’s Super League kick-off, with episode three of Sky Sports’ four-part Brighton: Beyond the Pitch series featuring the squad squaring off against each other in a beach volleyball competition.

Pre-season has become more intense since Brighton became a full-time outfit in the top division of the women’s game in 2018. Felicity Gibbons, whose second spell at the club began 12 months earlier, relishes preparations for the new campaign and draws strength from her previous experiences on and off the pitch.

“It’s nice just to see people outside and to just feel like you are having a laugh with your mates – in the peak of pre-season is where the hard work starts,” she says after victory on the beach volleyball court.

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“I spend a lot of time sort of making sure my mind’s in the right place. Before we were full-time, I was working a full-time job as a PE specialist at a special needs school. I needed so much patience and empathy and understanding in that job, and it was difficult to manage, but if I hadn’t done it, I wouldn’t be here [where I am with Brighton].”


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The team have endured mixed fortunes in their build-up to the new campaign, which included a painful 6-1 defeat at Everton, before rounding off their pre-season with a 1-1 draw against Manchester United.

Republic of Ireland international Megan Connolly is completing her second full pre-season as a Brighton player and admits preparations for their WSL opener at home to West Ham on Sunday have been intense.

It’s definitely been hard, but that’s what pre-seasons are for, to kind of expose you to the hardest parts of it, so that when the season comes you’re [ready and] able for it,” she says.

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“It’s not perfect [in terms of performances and results] but, you know, that’s why you have pre-season games. You can’t slack off. You can’t take the foot off the pedal. You have to push.”

Assistant manager Amy Merricks knows what she wants from the players and expects them to put in a solid display when West Ham visit the Amex Stadium this weekend.

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She says: “This is the stage, isn’t it? Every time they’re playing, every time they’re training, they’re there to perform. Players at this level want to compete and be the absolute best 100 percent of the time – and if they don’t, then they probably won’t last.”

Watch the Barclays FA Women’s Super League live on Sky Sports

Sky Sports has announced a three-year deal with the FA to become the primary broadcaster of the Barclays FA Women’s Super League from September 2021, becoming one of Sky Sports flagship offerings.

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The deal will see Sky Sports show at least 35 games exclusively live per season and further strengthens the broadcaster’s commitment to women’s sport.

Sky Sports are recruiting for the best-in-class on-and-off-screen production team as part of the plan to align WSL with the broadcaster’s other big sporting leagues and events.

The WSL will get the full Sky Sports treatment with lengthy build-ups and reaction to all live matches, plus daily news from the competition across Sky Sports News and Sky Sports’ digital platforms.

Click play on the video at the top of the page to watch the third episode of ‘Brighton: Beyond the Pitch’, airing across Sky platforms on Thursday

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