Western Pride Women coach Belinda Kitching is delighted the club’s recent licence renewal has allowed her to enact her plans for next year – including a punishing pre-season schedule.
Kitching has finalised her plans for pre-season after Pride was reinstated to next year’s PlayStation® 4 NPL Queensland Women’s competition late last month.
Kitching said her priority was to forge her team into a more competitive unit.
“This will see players be put outside their comfort zones to improve their knowledge and skills and set higher expectations within themselves to become a better player,” Kitching said.
“The proposed preseason has scared a few of the girls but hopefully provides them with the understanding that this is where the program is needing to go if we want to be competitive.”
Pride initially missed out on the chance to compete after this season, but talks between the club and Football Queensland saw the decision reversed late last month.
Kitching said the professional way in which all parties resolved the situation helped helped lessen the impact on her players during the period of uncertainty.
“As a collective group where we were shaken by the decision but we never stopped believing we deserved to be in the NPL competition,” Kitching said.
“Throughout the whole time the club had shown true support and professionalism in how they approached FQ and in giving the players as much information as they could.
“This allowed players to focus on their football.”
The news of the renewed licence came as Pride’s Elli Chapple, plus Brisbane Roar’s former Pride youngster Holly McQueen were both invited to a Mini Matilda’s selection camp.
By coincidence the same week also saw Australia’s growth of female football celebrated when the Matildas winning the Tournament of Nations ahead of powerhouses US and Brazil.
Former international Kitching said the retention of an NPLW licence in the Ipswich region was important at a time when the Matildas profile was drawing an increasing number of girls to the sport.
“The success of Pride’s U13s and U15s is already becoming apparent through the consistent training and playing standards faced each week,” Kitching said.
“Stronger competitions with good coaches will see the women’s game develop, especially in the Western Corridor.
“We are wanting to work more with clubs and schools within our region to provide pathways and further increase female numbers.”
First though, Pride faces one final challenge this season when Gold Coast City visit on Saturday.
The visitors will be keen to win their last ever competitive game after City elected not to renew its Women’s licence beyond this season.
But Pride are in a confident mood having won their last home fixture and knowing they pushed City all the way in a narrow 1-0 away loss earlier in the season.
Kitching said her squad went into every game working towards getting a result, even against top teams.
“With such a young squad, this year we have been working hard on holding shape as a unit when defending and taking goal-scoring chances when they present themselves,” Kitching said.
“Becoming very short of numbers due to injuries was the biggest challenge this year but the players learnt that if we stay strong we will get a result eventually.”
WORDS: Garry McKenzie
PHOTO: Chris Simpson
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