Smith excited – and surprised – to take City Ladies helm

Aaron Smith is taking over from Matt Wright at Chi City Ladies
Aaron Smith is taking over from Matt Wright at Chi City Ladies

Chichester City Ladies have named Aaron Smith as their first-team manager ahead of the 2018-19 season – as Matt Wright steps down from the job.

Smith joined Chichester in September 2017 after previously working with Southampton Women and Portsmouth Ladies.

In 2016-17 Smith led the Southampton Women’s reserve team to the league title and was undefeated before he joined Pompey as assistant manager.

The former Southampton coach came on board as Wright’s assistant manager at Oaklands Park last term and played vital roles in Chichester’s maiden season in the FA Women’s Premier League southern division.

In his role he has assisted Wright in coaching and managing the team through an injury-stricken season that also saw the best FA Cup run in the club’s history and some key wins in the league.

Work has already begun for the new manager with pre-season arrangements being made and the backroom staff being assembled.

We have brought in a very good physio (Phil) who comes from Ajax, so the injury prevention side of things will go so far in helping us keep players fit and on the pitch.

Aaron Smith

Wright will continue to be involved with Chichester City Ladies.

Smith, 38, says he’s excited and wants to prove he is the right person for the job.

It’s still sinking in really as I expected to continue in the role of assistant next season under Matt,” he said.

“For me to be asked to take over the reins is a huge compliment and I want to thank everyone at the club for giving me this opportunity. 

 “I have managed in the men’s game and was given an opportunity at Southampton Women to join their coaching team a few years ago.

“I started off as the ‘cone boy’ picking up the equipment, laying out grids and worked my way up to managing the reserve team in the same season.

“From Southampton I moved up into the Women’s Premier League as assistant manager at two clubs, so I feel that I have progressed up to first-team manager the right way; gaining both experience of the managing and coaching in the women’s game while learning about other clubs and their players.

“Anyone that knows me will know that I have always aimed to be a manager at this level and to now have this opportunity means the world to me.”

He added: “My first job will be to build and strengthen the squad, not just the first team but also the development squad.

“We have worked hard to improve our training facilities for the new season and the contact time with coaches has also increased drastically.

“This gives the backroom staff more time to work on fitness, tactics and most importantly we have brought in a very good physio (Phil) who comes from Ajax, so the injury prevention side of things will go so far in helping us keep players fit and on the pitch.

“I want the players to enjoy themselves, work hard for each other and towards their own personal development.” 

Smith is very complimentary about the set-up he’s become aart of. “Since joining Chichester the first thing I realised was how amazing the volunteers are. We don’t have the finances of other clubs, but this doesn’t matter to our volunteers,” he added.

“They give hours of their own time, unpaid, in order to help this club reach our target of playing in the Women’s Super League.

“I have fallen in love with this club and its values and I hope that I can take Chi up to the next level while maintaining the community feel and the togetherness that is evident to see on matchdays.

 “Although I do feel nervous, I am more excited. I have worked my way up to this point so now is the time for me to prove I’m the right person for the job. I just want to get started now and get the first league game out of the way.”