Ahead of our Women’s PS4 NPL season kickoff this Sunday, we have taken the time to chat with our WNPL head coach, Michael Aldred, on the prospects and his thoughts for 2017 at Tuggeranong United
Let’s start with 2016, how would you evaluate last season
Last season was a season of change, before the season started the senior sides had a large turnover of players and we started the season with a very young side. As a coaching team we made a concerted effort to stick to our principles and play the game a certain way, within the context of trying to win games. The senior team reached the finals which was a good achievement and the rest of the teams played some excellent football at times.
As a senior coach I believe in a certain philosophy of how the game should be played and with the support of the board we implemented that across all aspects of the woman’s side of the club
So how would you describe your philosophy?
That’s a hard question to answer in a few words, I want my teams to be proactive and attacking based on effective possession, that is we are comfortable in possession utilising the ball in a manner that is positive and forward thinking enabling the team to be creative.
An aspect that is often overlooked is the work done without the ball, without the ball I expect to see a hardworking, well organised team that is desperate to get the ball back and once we get the ball back we transition quickly, being proactive and using possession effectively.
The key in implementing any philosophy is a long term plan The introduction of the girl’s academy last year was the building blocks for our long term aim, I think the girls academy for a first year was very successful, it has certainly put us in a good place for the changes that have been introduced in this year’s WNPL program.
In the first team, we started to play a brand of football that was exciting and adhered to the philosophy, the challenge this season is to build upon the building blocks we have put in place to start to build a long term sustainable model that gives Tuggeranong the opportunity to be successful consistently
Was 2016 successful from a results perspective?
Looking at the senior results from last season we can say it was a successful season we made the play offs which is always the goal at the start of the season. Whilst we lost in the semi-final it was very satisfying as a coach to see 12 of the match day squad of 16, being under the age of 18, this gives us a great base to move forward. The younger age groups had mixed results but in the age groups that we competed in last season we saw them very much as opportunities for development, and in that aspect we were very successful, we have already seen in pre-season how much the younger girls have developed in comparison to this time last season.
What are your thoughts on 2017?
It’s an exciting time for woman’s football in Canberra, the WNPL has been revamped we now have WNPL sides in Under 13, 15, 17 reserve and the first team.
We now have 8 premier league clubs that should over the next few years play consistently in the WNPL, this will hopefully add depth and give more opportunities for girls of all ages to play in the premier league.
What’s in store for Tuggeranong in 2017?
We have made some changes to the coaching teams and structures, as you do every year you learn from previous years and we have made changes that will enable us to keep moving forward, an example of this is the senior squad, we will train as one squad this season not as a senior or reserve side, this gives me (assisted by the excellent Mal Daisley) a great opportunity to further imbed my coaching philosophy across the senior group, ensuring the messaging and playing style is consistent across a larger number of girls
The coaches across all the ages are working closely together, we have a shared resource of drills, practices etc.
All the coaches have devised and implemented a training cycle that ensures we work to a long term plan rather than going from session to session. This gives me as a head coach the confidence that we are developing the girls in a manner that meets both short term and long term goals and is linked to the philosophy of how we want the game to be played.
We have a introduced a mentor program, all the senior girls will mentor and help the younger girls. This is a great opportunity to build relationships between all the teams
What can we expect to see results wise in 2017
I think as a senior group we have moved forward from last season, we are expecting to have a squad of between 26-30 girls. The squad is made up of long standing Tuggeranong girls, returning Tuggeranong girls and new players. We have been very selective in the girls that we have brought in to make sure they are suited to our playing style. Our pre-season so far has shown me that we are certainly ahead of where we were last season, but I would expect most teams to say that.
We are still a very young side, as was the case last season. At times last season we played some very exciting football that was a match for any team we played against, but our challenge this season, it to produce that level of football consistently and over a sustained period of time. I’m not one for making predictions and with the changes to the league the competition will certainly be a lot stronger, but as always we should be aiming to be playing semi-final football in September whilst continuing to develop our style and culture
With the younger ages, we have to be careful not to place too much emphasis on the results as I see them as development sides, but I’m confident after speaking with the coaches and seeing the plans they have in place that all teams will be competitive this season and representing the club with pride
The support we got at matches last season was fantastic, but for all those who have not yet seen us play, come on down and have a look, we are an exciting side to watch. At our home games all WPL sides will be playing at the same venue it would be great for the younger girls in their first season of WPL to be exposed to the fantastic support a Tuggeranong crowd can produce.