Strong focus on regional youth keeps Pride improving
EVEN during a frustrating football shutdown, Western Pride head coach Andrew Catton found motivation to keep his team positive.
That is backing their ability and remembering why they are representing a proud sporting city.
"We're lucky that we've got a lot of the young talent and we're in a position that we can work with what we've got,'' Catton said preparing for Pride's return to Football Queensland Premier League competition this weekend.
"We've got a high percentage of Ipswich boys and a high percentage of boys that are Pride juniors. That's very important.''
Having worked closely with promising teenage footballers in Hervey Bay and at Ipswich Grammar School, Catton knows the value of encouraging youth development.
That's one of the main reasons he took on the Pride senior men's coaching role this season.
"Whilst there's no denying that we have brought in boys from other clubs around the place as well, we have a very, very high percentage of Ipswich and Western Corridor locals and Pride juniors,'' he said.
"That's one of the core values for the club.''
Catton is keen to see young players stick together, improve and further their careers.
"That's something I feel passionately about,'' he said.
"It's going to be interesting over the next few years to watch them grow and develop.
"They are very talented. Just keeping them together is the biggest challenge.''
Western Pride is scheduled to play Holland Park away in Saturday night's clash.
With the revised season extending into November, Pride's promising players can capitalise on recent training and reset their competition goals having dropped down from last year's National Premier Leagues competition.
"We've put a lot of time into them and we're just trying to get our approach right,'' Catton said.
"We're getting our conditioning back up to where we had it . . . I think we're getting there.
"The effort they've put in at training has been quite good but the effects of being a really young group is still showing.
"It's certainly becoming less and less so we're definitely on the right path.''
After losing Japanese recruit Ryu Yoneszawa and Matt Haspels during the lockdown, Catton said his squad benefited from recent trials against football heavyweights Lions and Strikers.
"We've put a lot of time into them at training and learning situations over the last couple of weeks so I think our fitness levels have improved a lot,'' the coach said.
"We played Strikers on Saturday night and I didn't see any issue.
"I certainly went away thinking we're right to go for 90 minutes, which is good.
"We want to prepare to a high level and we like the boys to realise where we want to get to and Lions in particular are the benchmark and we all saw what Strikers went and did in the FFA Cup last year. They are both good set-ups and this certainly is the level the club needs to get back to.''
Game day: FQPL Saturday (6.30pm) - Western Pride v Holland Park at Whites Hill Reserve.