Jodie Bartle gives player's insight into dealing with lockdown and social distancing at Celtic ahead of SWPL return

By Euan Davidson

April 1, 2021

Celtic FC Women signed four new players over winter, but star Jodie Bartle didn’t actually get to meet them until March.

With the SWPL continuing in earnest after a prolonged break, Bartle discussed how the squad integrated new members over lockdown.

Anna Filbey, Mariah Lee, Jacynta Galabadaarchchi and Izzy Atkinson all joined in January [Celtic FC Women], but have only played a couple of friendlies in preparation for Sunday’s clash with Glasgow City.

It was a strange process, Bartle said, but it didn’t take long for the new arrivals to get familiar.

Bartle told us:

“I think they themselves probably found it very challenging. A couple of the girls moved into what we call “the foreign flat”, ’cause there’s loads of different nationalities in this flat. But a couple of them moved in when some of us went home.

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“So it was difficult for them to readjust, moving to Scotland, somewhere completely different. Not on their own but kind of on their own at the same time.

“As a team we did what we could do. We would still have our Zoom chats, our group calls. We’d talk to each other as much as we could, in order to welcome them and integrate them.

“As soon as we’ve started again, it sort of feels like they’ve been there for ages. We still communicated with them all the time, we just hadn’t played with them. It was really nice to put a face to a name and be able to speak to them physically, get them on the ball and have a kick-about with them.”

Interesting parallels with Celtic first team

Of course, both the Men’s and Women’s sides have brought in players under unusual circumstances. It’s clear from what Bartle told us, that Celtic have been trying to integrate new players as quickly as possible.

Even moving flat during a pandemic is a huge challenge. Moving country, attempting to meet your new colleagues over Zoom and coming to live in a flat with essentially strangers is an unenviable task.

It shows the club and the players care, though. It could be argued that, in terms of the Men’s Team, players like Vasilis Barkas and Shane Duffy have had issues becoming acclimatised to Glasgow and Scotland in general. However, the atmosphere within the Celtic FC Women squad sounds incredibly welcoming, with the club working hard to ensure everyone’s as happy and prepared as possible

Keeva Keenan and Caitlin Hayes of Celtic FC Women / (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

More eyes on Celtic FC Women than ever, with Jodie Bartle leading the way

With more attention on the SWPL, and Celtic now a professional outlet, there’s more pressure on Celtic FC Women than ever before.

BBC Alba are showing a litany of SWPL fixtures, headlined by Celtic’s clash with Glasgow City on Sunday [Scotsman]. It’s not just Celtic, Rangers and Glasgow City that are the names to watch though.

Jodie Bartle’s own story is a fantastic one. A former PE teacher, Bartle was named Peterborough Telegraph’s footballer of the Year 2015, having impressed with Loughborough Foxes. She trained multiple times a week with squads of different genders, and drove 500 miles to do so.

So, every game is important for the now-professional Celtic star.

Bartle continued:

“Every single game is going to be a difficult one. I don’t think anyone is above anyone. We’ve just got to go into a game, not worry about the next game, not worry about the previous game. Just do our job on the day.

“Hibs have always been up there, Spartans was a 1-0, a very, very close game. Forfar was another game where we [dropped] points. Every single game’s a cup final at the end of the day, isn’t it?”

Celtic face Glasgow City at K-Park Training Academy on Sunday, 4.10pm.

READ MORE: Big update on English star linked with Celtic.