Kitching coup for Ipswich football
FORMER Australian goalkeeper Belinda Kitching has been appointed head coach of the Western Pride women's team for the 2017 National Premier Leagues football season.
The Matilda returns to the city where she learned the game just in time to look over the next generation of the region's talent as Pride start their annual girls and women's trials next week at Kippen Park, Goodna.
Outgoing senior women's coach Len Manwaring will remain at the club to build and mentor Pride's squad for the inaugural NPL U17 girls' competition.
Kitching said she had no hesitation in returning to Ipswich after 14 years playing and coaching in the Tweed and Fraser Coast regions.
"I heard about the role at Ipswich and knew my next phase in coaching was at the NPL level," Kitching said.
"The western corridor has a lot of potential due to its size and a lot of clubs in the vicinity have a wonderful, proud history."
The name Kitching is synonymous with Ipswich football history with several branches of the family having a close relationship with Ipswich Knights and its forerunner clubs over many generations.
Kitching's grandfather George Snr was a Socceroo in the 1930s.
With relatives Col and Spenser also representing Australia, it was no surprise she dreamed of becoming a Matilda from a young age.
After learning the game at Coalstars, Kitching became a foundation player in the women's football program at the Queensland Academy of Sport.
International honours followed for the goalkeeper culminating with appearances at the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup.
After hanging up her gloves at the highest level, Kitching worked her way through her coaching badges while playing and coaching Tweed Heads Kangaroos and Hervey Bay's United Warriors.
After completing her FFA B Licence earlier this year, Kitching said she set her Warriors team high goals and they responded by making the Wide Bay League grand final.
"I wanted to see how much I could develop United Warriors' players to a different level of playing and they adjusted well and played great football," Kitching said.
"The opportunity to help develop the women's game is a passion I enjoy doing."
Kitching was looking forward to helping young Ipswich players achieve their goals.
Western Pride general manager Pat Boyle was excited to welcome Kitching to the club having known her since she was a teenager.
"Belinda was born and bred in Ipswich and it is great to see her coming home to pass on the wealth of experience she's gained playing at the highest level," Boyle said.
Boyle said Kitching's return was part of the club's strategy to attract the best experienced coaches and players developed in the area.
"By attracting Belinda we are proving to our young players and coaches you can learn the game in Ipswich and the West Brisbane and make it all the way to the top," Boyle said.
"Ipswich on its own developed almost 20 Socceroos and Matildas, and the number of internationals and professional players only grows if you look across our entire Western Corridor catchment.
"We want to bring some of that experience and knowledge to the club to help develop the region's next generation of profes- sional players and coaches."