Pride looks to attract World Cup side to Ipswich
"REMEMBER us'' in A-League expansion and Ipswich is available to host a 2023 Women's World Cup team.
As Western Pride officials reflect on a testing year, long-serving general manager Pat Boyle remains as focused as ever.
Top of his 2021 wishlist is helping the club's senior men's team regain its place in the National Premier Leagues (NPL) competition.
The experienced football administrator and his team also want to continue promoting the Ipswich club as a professional family friendly environment.
"Ultimately, we want to see a successful program, both the male and the females,'' Boyle said.
He was particularly excited about the rebirth of the club's senior women's program, being overseen by Pride newcomer Trent Gregson.
"And we as a club - and no separation between genders or juniors or seniors - progress forward into the future. That's where my headspace will be and how we can best deliver.''
As Pride officials, coaches, volunteers and players prepare for a Christmas break, Boyle was ever-mindful of higher level goals.
With recent speculation about the need for another Queensland team in the A-League, Boyle said Pride were building for a future licence.
"We are still in occasional talks with the FFA (Football Federation of Australia),'' Boyle said.
"Just reminding them that this region is here and this region wants to be represented on the national stage.
"It's just the occasional 'hey remember us'.''
While other Queensland clubs like Brisbane City have been mentioned, Boyle said Pride covered an important Western Corridor that provided multiple benefits outlined in previous proposals submitted to A-League bosses.
"When that (expansion) comes back to the table again, we will certainly be there putting our hands up,'' he said.
A positive development for Ipswich football is Western Pride FC keen to provide a preparation base for an international team when Australia hosts the 2023 Women's World Cup.
With top class facilities at the Springfield Central Sport Complex and Briggs Road Sporting Complex, the Ipswich-based NPL and Football Queensland Premier League club is well positioned to fulfil that role.
"We would love to see a women's World Cup team using Ipswich as their training base,'' Boyle said.
"We have put Ipswich, as a region, up for consideration.''
Western Pride's case will be strengthened having recently secured an international partnership with world-renowned Everton Football Club.
Boyle is delighted how that new arrangement is progressing with regular Zoom meetings between Pride officials and coaches, and their Everton counterparts.
"It is wonderful. They are a wealth of knowledge and nothing is too much of a burden for them,'' Boyle said.
"They are providing us, not only football information, but assistance around how we deliver, how the coaches deliver, how we deliver a business entity.
"We're in talks with them twice a week and then the coaches can even contact their (Everton's) coaching staff directly.''
Boyle was impressed how Everton staff were so willing to share information.
"It has simply taken our program to a whole new level,'' he said.
"They are just there whenever we need them and it's just a breath of fresh air.''
Ending a year "definitely out of the ordinary'' due to COVID-19, Boyle praised the club's officials, coaches, players and volunteers for their tremendous service.
"We were still able to deliver on a program and a competition,'' said Boyle, who has been general manager since the club's formation in 2012, preparing for a 2013 season kick-off.
"Not only through governance but through our club and our wonderful volunteers, we were able to deliver that in such a short space of time.''
Pride's football operations manager Pye Augustine played a leading role in setting up the COVID-safe environment that allowed senior and junior training and matches to proceed in the NPL and FQPL competitions.
"And probably like every other club, we're pretty luck in a sense that people are there for the right reason,'' Boyle said.
Most of Pride's coaching appointments are in place for 2021 with Brian Hastings to guide the senior men's program and newcomer Trent Gregson to revitalise the club's women's program.
"Both are switched on. Both are very passionate about their core groups at Western Pride,'' Boyle said.
Recruiting is underway to support the promising young players remaining loyal to Pride.
"Our plan is to nurture the talent we have and then identify key areas that we need to embrace and look to assist our talented youth coming through,'' he said.
Boyle is happy with the club's junior progress, highlighted at the recent presentation event at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
"How can you tell whether your program is going well? And that's whether the kids are smiling,'' Boyle said. "They were very happy.
"We've had some feedback from families too. They actually quite enjoyed that way (getting the 12 junior teams together for a combined presentation following COVID guidelines).
"That was nice to hear.''
He said the club had a wealth of coaching experience with a number of B and C Licence holders working with the players of the future.
"That's what we are here for - to deliver those programs for the kids,'' Boyle said.