BUCKINGHAM Athletic manager Damien Wiffin is confident for the year ahead as his side prepare for their first match of the season.
Athletic kick off their South Midlands Football League Division One campaign at 3pm tomorrow against Chesham United Reserves at Stratford Fields.
The club have had a difficult pre-season against higher-level opposition but Wiffin remains optimistic about his side’s chances.
Looking ahead to his side’s campaign, he said: “Pre-season has been tough but I planned to play against teams at a higher level so we gradually work our way up.
“I haven’t set any long-term goals for the season but we want to get off to a good start.
“We have six games in August so it’s important to start well.
“I’ve got a full squad to pick from so I hope we can get off to a strong start at home on Saturday.”
Athletic experienced a mixed season last year after finishing 18th, but this season Wiffin has brought together an almost entirely new squad in order to improve on performances in recent seasons.
Having taken over at the end of last season, he has signed up a number of new faces from his previous club, Winslow United.
He has also focussed on making the squad as local as possible while working hard to ensure the players gel.
He added: “I’ve brought in a few lads from Winslow, one of those is an experienced goalkeeper Tom Clarke, who’s played at a number of clubs.
“I’ve tried to gel the best local players because I want to keep the club as local as possible.
“I’ve worked hard with the players on and off the pitch so they gel and get to know one another.”
Another key aim of Wiffin’s is to bring through young players for the forthcoming season and help them develop as they progress into the first team.
The former Winslow boss added: “We’ve got a great youth side here so I want to bring through a few of those as the season goes on.
“We’ve worked a lot on our shape and the way that we play and it’s been very positive.”
Wiffin joined the club after leaving Winslow last season, adding: “I came here because the club’s close to my heart.
“I started playing here when I was 15 and I’ve captained the club at all levels so it’s a great chance.
“I also wanted to manage in Division One and I think this club has a lot of potential with the new changing rooms, it’s progressing in the right way.”
Wiffin will not have long to wait for his first visit back to Winslow as the two sides meet on Tuesday.
He added:“It’ll be an interesting one that’s for sure.
“There won’t be too much love lost there.
“But I’m looking forward to it and I’m quietly confident for the season ahead.”