We have recently celebrated the end of the 2020 season, with presentation events for our junior and senior teams. Despite the unique and challenging circumstances thrown up by COVID 19, 2020 was still a year we could be proud of, and I offer my congratulations to all individual player award winners throughout the club, as well as the Crystal Roberts Club Person of the Year winner - Kris Opie.
Winning the Inaugural NPLW Top Four Cup was an obvious highlight of 2020 and was an amazing achievement, demonstrating courage, experience and discipline from the playing group as well as the high quality and tactical nouse of their coach, Conrad McKelvie. Congratulations Conrad and team, with a special mention for Morgan Aquino’s Player of the Match Award.
The U23's also made the Grand Final and produced high-quality football throughout the season. The achievements of both of the teams need to be put in the context of a large number of injuries they experienced with 25 players in total playing for the first team and even more juniors from our Amateur, Metro-North Div 1 and Under 18 teams having opportunities at the Under 23 level. Despite all of these player movements every one of our seven teams made a top-four finish, including two teams who came second only on goal difference, and these results were due to the excellent coaching throughout the club which enabled our young players to transition seamlessly to higher levels of football. Our coaches also deserve recognition and praise for their support and care of the players during this unique season. The club’s success is a result of planning by coaches over the years to grow and develop our junior program, led by our Football director Tim Hodgson.
Off the field, we continued to grow with improved training conditions at Celebration Park as a result of the installation of the fourth light tower, and we also enjoyed the use of game day facilities at Kingsway Olympic which were probably the best in the NPLW.
The diligence and hard work behind the scenes by our Club Committee and volunteers on the ground make our successes possible, and I thank all of them for their efforts during the season.
The club's profile continues to grow through the work of our media department, who promoted us on every social media platform imaginable, and our enhanced presence through the #AsOne campaign to host the 2023 Women's World Cup was acknowledged by Football West, FFA and FIFA! The club was also featured by Channel 9 and The West Australian in stories about the impact of COVID 19 on community clubs.
Another way in which our profile has grown was via Football West’s decision to implement the NPLW and live stream NPLW matches on Facebook and YouTube, with our games attracting a total audience of over 131,000 this season, with average viewing figures for our games of approximately 7 500. I strongly believe that this sort of exposure can only help us when we talk to potential sponsors, and if any members have contacts with businesses who may be interested in helping us to maintain our position as the premier women's club in WA please don't hesitate to get in touch with the committee.
When the regular season finished our teams travelled to Bunbury and Kalgoorlie to take part in regional competitions and all those who represented us are to be congratulated for ensuring that our reputation for being competitive and fair was enhanced. It was especially pleasing to see our Gothia Squad being involved with a hugely successful female-only clinic for young players in the Kalgoorlie area, and I offer my heartfelt congratulations to the players, coach Shane Atkins and manager Sam Preston for their terrific efforts.
The work on building and improving our Club will continue over the close season, with selection trials now concluded, and we congratulate all players selected for the 2021 senior and junior teams. We are currently exploring options for introducing extra teams for those players who wish to remain with the Redbacks despite missing out on selection. There is something special about membership of the last women’s-only football club left standing in Perth, and the importance of our inclusive and supportive club culture to ensure all members are backed when things get tough is something I am proud of.
The Committee continues its work on a number of projects including:
Developing a plan for the next three years.
Seeking sponsorship based on data retrieved from our media exposure.
Preparing updates for our 2021 handbooks which will be distributed as soon as possible.
Securing the best and most appropriate coaches to fill coaching vacancies.
Preparing for the 2021 AGM.
For many reasons, clubs lose valuable members at the end of a season due to a change in personal circumstances or new opportunities arising, and this season is no different. I wish to acknowledge and thank departing coaches Ally McMurdo, Nick Celenza, Shane Atkins and Stephen Farrell for their excellent service at our Club. Shane and Stephen were with us for a relatively short time but still left a big impression, whilst Nick and Ally have been with us for a number of years. Ally helped rebuild our junior program and his passion for developing young players has left us with a very solid base of talented players. Nick coached our metro teams for a number of years and has been the clubs' goalkeeping coach over the last two years. Like Ally, Nick was passionate about the development of our younger players and he has left a wonderful legacy. While we will miss their presence at Celebration Park, I am confident that what they have learned from the Redbacks will benefit women’s football at other clubs.
There has also been a change in the coaching team for our NPLW team, with head coach Conrad McKelvie moving into the technical director role and our new coaching team will be led by Carlos Vega Mena and Michael Rosa, who have shown in their short time at the club that they are both excellent coaches who produce teams that play exciting attacking football. Conrad has been a wonderful senior coach and I'm delighted that he is staying with us as we start another chapter in our long and proud history.
Yours in Football,