Ipswich football can kick on chasing higher level goals
AFTER a tense couple of weeks due to a dramatic decision, Western Pride general manager Pat Boyle welcomed a relaxing afternoon.
It came in the form of Pride's second sportsman's lunch, where former Socceroos striker Archie Thompson was an insightful guest speaker.
Given Pride are chasing a future A-League licence, Thompson's visit provided valuable inspiration to officials and especially the players who are lifting the Ipswich-based club to a new level.
"It was fantastic,'' Boyle said, happy the club was able to secure an international player of such high regard.
Having put in the hard yards to achieve his goals, Thompson's story had appeal for those involved in a young, progressive club like Western Pride.
The latest luncheon came as club officials learnt Football Queensland had reinstated Pride's junior and senior women's teams into next year's elite state competition.
Pride was initially overlooked in a FQ decision that created widespread anger. However, FQ reversed the decision after seeing the public's response and learning about new plans for a massive sporting facility at Springfield.
Boyle and his Pride team were cautious in what they said after FQ's first verdict to exclude the growing Ipswich-based club from their state-wide plans.
However, Boyle said Football Queensland and its board deserved credit for reviewing their decision and allowing Pride to offer additional information about multi-million dollar Ipswich City Council sports facility plans.
Football Queensland said that was a key factor in Pride's junior girls and women's teams being re-instated to next year's National Premier Leagues competition.
Western Pride's junior boys and men's sides were granted a licence to continue at a separate announcement earlier in the year.
Boyle said the club had already started planning for next year.
He was clearly relieved after Football Queensland's decision allowed Pride to get on with the all-important business of developing the sport across the region in all age groups.
"Given that we had adopted FQ's philosophy of building our programs, we can take it to another level,'' he said.
"We'll be raising the bar again to take both programs (men and women) ahead.
"Our club is one. There's no male-female junior thing. You put a Pride shirt on, you are part of the family.
"We'll be doing our best to make sure that family moves forward and reaches a whole new level of points next year.''
Thanks to FQ and for amazing public support
Ipswich councillor and staunch regional football supporter David Morrison was delighted Western Pride could continue their progressive development work in the region.
"Football Queensland's decision to reinstate the Western Pride's PlayStation 4 NPL Womens' Queensland licence is wonderful news for Ipswich,'' Cr Morrison said.
"I would like to thank FQ CEO Geoff Foster for taking time to listen and to advocate on our behalf to be reinstated.
"This gives the opportunity for any young girls in Ipswich who play football to remain within Ipswich City boundaries and play for Western Pride in the NPLW competition.
"FQ's decision also positions Ipswich in good stead to apply for an A-League licence if FA call for expansion of the existing competition.''
As a former footballer and national indoor cricket representative, Pride general manager Boyle knows what it takes to instil professionalism into a club.
He was especially grateful for the people power that highlighted how important Western Pride is in the western corridor.
"To anyone that follows sport in Ipswich or has anything to do with football in Ipswich, thank you for everybody's support,'' Boyle said. "It truly was amazing and we at Western Pride totally appreciate and respect the support shown to us.''
That's why Archie Thompson's visit to Ipswich last Friday was also timely.
The championship-winning A-League and international footballer reminded those who heard him speak at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex about the extra effort needed to reach the top.
After hours of travelling to training each night, Thompson entered a star-studded academy and had to keep pace with players like Harry Kewell to earn his national opportunities.
Thompson did, kicking on to set records for his goal-scoring prowess.
Thompson finished with 28 goals from his 54 matches for Australia.
He holds the all-time goal-scoring record for a single international match.
Thompson booted 13 goals in Australia's 31-0 victory against American Samoa in 2001.
"Archie was great,'' Boyle said, appreciative of his time with Pride's senior and under 20 players.
"He answered questions about different points of their careers and possible obstacles or hurdles that they might face.''
Boyle said Thompson also knew about Pride's longer-term goals, something the Ipswich club can confidently continue pursuing now that Football Queensland has included all club sides in its future vision to improve the game.
Boyle said Pride head coach Graham Harvey, football operations manager Dan Burnell and their helpers ensured the lunch was a success.
"It was a wonderful event,'' he said.