Inverness Caley Thistle Women are excited by the prospect of the unknown as they start their SWF Championship campaign against Rossvale this afternoon.
The Caley Jags host the Glasgow Side for their first game in the new-look third-tier, which has been restructured to a national division rather than north and south leagues.
Caley Thistle will be the only team north of Dundee to play in the Championship, as the two other north teams moved to SWF’s new fourth tier.
As a result, the Highland side know very little about most of their league opponents, which boss Karen Mason says is an exciting prospect – rather than a daunting one.
She said: “It’s very much the unknown for us. Dryburgh are the only team that we’ve faced in recent times, but it’s an exciting prospect playing all of these new teams.
“In terms of the not knowing, you have to go about putting yourself first. We’ll be trying to prove we can do that on Sunday because we want to dictate the game. In training and in pre-season, we have focused on how we want to play and what we want to do, rather than worry about the other team.
“We’re going to have to learn pretty quickly about these teams – we’re going to play each other four times, so we’ll know more about them as the round of fixtures go on.
“To begin with, we might come up against something we’re not prepared for, but we just have to take care of ourselves first and make it work in our favour.”
A tough start against a side who narrowly missed out on promotion
Although they have not played Rossvale before, Inverness know not to underestimate them, as the Glasgow side finished second in Championship South last season.
They narrowly missed out on promotion to SWPL 2 – the second tier, now run by the SPFL – after being beaten 3-1 by East Fife in the play-off game.
Caley Thistle finished fourth in Championship North last term, behind promoted sides Montrose and East Fife, and third-placed Dryburgh.
Mason said: “We won’t be taking them lightly – they got themselves in a promotion play-off last season, which is something we failed to do.
“We’ll probably go into the game as underdogs, given how well they did in Championship South last season, which was a tough league.
“It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but I think we can give a good account ourselves and hopefully pick up the three points.”
Our squad list for the upcoming 2022/23 Championship season 🔴🔵 pic.twitter.com/iWzQdpOVRm
— Inverness Caledonian Thistle WFC (@ICTWFC) August 4, 2022
Mason is hoping Caley Thistle can make use of their home advantage against Rossvale, who won’t be used to travelling such a long distance for a league game.
She said: “We’ve got to try and take advantage of us playing at home – it’s not often we get a home game to start the season.
“We’re travelling almost double the distances this season, but it’s not something that we’ll ever complain about, because we want to play at the highest level.
“It’s going to be part and parcel of competing in this national Championship, but a lot of of the teams won’t be used to travelling as far north as Inverness.
“We’ll definitely be trying to take advantage of their tired legs coming off the bus and start the game with a bang.”
Inverness Caley Thistle Women v Rossvale kicks off at 12.30pm at Milburn Academy. Entry for supporters is free.