Updated: Oct 15, 2020
In the latest of our series of interviews about our club coaches, we chatted with Greg Farrell who is our U23's coach and also the assistant coach for the NPLW side. Greg joined us three years ago and has mainly looked after our reserve teams in that time, but last season he was heavily involved in our double-winning success with the senior squad.
Can you tell us a little about yourself? What’s your coaching and playing background and do you have any other interests outside the game?
I am a Brisbane boy and my first loves were golf and the Brisbane Broncos. But I started playing football at 6 and never looked at anything but a football or Futsal ball (seriously anyway) after that. I played both football and Futsal as a kid, and heard from people that Futsal was bad for football players “because it makes them play with their head down” or “makes you develop bad habits”, all utter garbage from people scared of something they don’t quite understand and evidenced by the fact that most of the best players in the world in the last 50 years played Futsal until they were 13-14. Even current Socceroos, Matilda’s and youth internationals have been Futsal players into their early teens. I started playing senior football in Brisbane at 15, I’ve played in England in the lower leagues and played in the old state league, XXXX league in Brisbane before I moved over to Perth.
I started coaching straight out of high school, at my old school and loved it. I got more into coaching when I returned from England and started working at a school while studying to be a teacher.
I ran an in-school Academy that combined football and Futsal for five years, across the male and female sides and there were several regional, state and national championships in both Futsal and outdoor tournaments such as the Southern Skies and Bill Turner Cups.
You’ve been with us for 3 seasons now, what attracted you to the club and what keeps bringing you back?
I had only coached Futsal in Perth until I was asked to take over at Beckenham. I met Conrad and Tim through coaching against the club and also through involvement with the Women’s Standing committee. My fiancé and I moved house and the ideas and mentality of Conrad and Tim attracted me. I have always believed that playing expansive, proactive football with players who love the game and are taught to make mistakes as a part of the learning process is the best way to ensure juniors and seniors are successful. It’s not easy, and there are subtle differences in any group, but that shared vision and the values of the people within the club are the reason that you put your hand up.
What do you think is the role of the U23 coach in the pathway for our players?
The 23s coach has to help develop players for the first team, the junior Matilda’s, the Matilda’s etc. It’s the same with the teams below the 23s and while winning leagues and cups is nice, the only team in the club where that should be the main priority is the first team. For every other team, the goals should be technical, tactical, physical and psychological development of players, and being successful as a team should be a byproduct of that. A good measure of success is how many players from the 16s played for the 18s or 20s or whatever other teams above that a club has.
Obviously COVID has had an enormous impact on this season, how have you managed the impacts and what have been the biggest challenges?
The biggest challenges were certainly management of the physical side of the players and checking in on people during the lockdown. The mental health of everyone was a big concern with people losing jobs and livelihoods, football was put on the back burner. Unfortunately across the women’s leagues, there has been a noticeable increase in injuries this season, and the 3-month furlough has to have played a part in it.
Finally, what are your expectations for this season for the team and the players?
Well, we had some changes happen post-Covid with one of our coaching staff having to stop because of work. That saw me picking up more with the 23s than was planned, but it’s given me the chance to continue working with the next group of first-team players more. With both teams, we had hoped for good performances that are based around being proactive and confident, with and without the ball in attack and defence. When reviewing this season, the majority of the 23s have gained first-team experience, the team has only lost one match whilst trying to dominate games and play good football. They are continually improving and we’ve also been giving younger players from the teams below opportunities as well, so there are lots of positives moving forward.