Ben Gilby spoke to Perth SC’s head coach Danielle Brogan, (pictured above) about the development of women’s football at the club, to review their inaugural NPL Women’s campaign and look ahead at their aims for 2021.
Danielle Brogan is a former Matilda who has played for Sydney FC, Adelaide United and Perth Glory in addition to spending time in the top flight of English women’s football with Notts County who appeared in the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium during her year there. She was appointed as head coach ahead of the club’s entry into 2020’s first season of NPL women’s football in Western Australia.
The NPL is a competition which is immediately below W-League standard in Australia with different states running their own NPL leagues. There is no promotion and relegation between the NPL and the W-League, but it offers Australian women an opportunity to play a longer season and a number of players go straight into the NPL at the end of the W-League season.
Danielle highlighted the importance of Western Australia finally launching their own NPL competition for women last year: “For many years our young female players had been playing amongst boys teams until we were able to fulfil junior girls’ teams in competition. We began the process for application into the women’s league in Perth approximately four or five years ago as an expression of interest. Our proposal came to fruition with the restructure of the NPLW, which was a great achievement by all involved to have a successful outcome.”
With Western Australia’s NPL competition for women being launched in 2020, Danielle is very clear in what, for her the key benefits of the new structure are.
“I believe it has brought structure and accountability for clubs to support the women’s competition. It has also brought in a much larger competitive platform with teams only having access to a capped number of W-League players.
“The standard has improved drastically. Every team had a loss at some stage throughout the inaugural season last year and the top four positions in the table came down to results relied upon within the last few rounds. The quality of the game and football played was also noticeable.
“As a club we have had tried to promote Super Saturdays where our men’s and women’s teams play back to back games throughout the day. This has generated a few hundred people to the games.”
In terms of Perth SC’s own inaugural campaign, they finished in second spot with only four losses. For Danielle, this was an excellent achievement.
“2020 exceeded our expectations immensely. We set out to create a great culture and environment within the team with the vision to also help create dynamic footballers. We couldn’t have asked anymore from the players and staff involved.
Danielle has an experienced staff around her at the club, being assisted by Katie Holtham, who was an inaugural player in 2020 and also played for several top clubs in England including Chelsea, Doncaster Rovers Belles and Notts County. David Dal Busco is the under 23’s coach who also acts as a first team assistant. Our goalkeepers are assisted by the club goalkeeper coach with integrated sessions with the men’s players.
In reviewing last season, Danielle identified some of the club’s key performers.
“Emily Henderson and Zoee Spadano were also some of the hardest and most consistent players throughout the year. Rebecca Bennett as goalkeeper was also outstanding and earned a call to Perth Glory for the W-League.”
The presence of a strong pathway in place at Perth SC is key to building long term sustainability and success. Danielle outlines the present status of girls’ football by revealing that “Currently we have junior girls’ teams up to the age of 16s. We’re hopefully to add an Under 18s team in the near future to bridge the gap to Under 23’s which is hugely positive.”
Another huge positive at the club is the strength of the relationship between the men’s and women’s teams.
“We have a fantastic relationship. We have fortnightly club dinners with the members and our respective coaches have very good relationships where they share their football knowledge. Some of our female players also get the opportunity to train with the men’s youth teams.”
With Perth Glory being the state’s representative side in the W-League, the NPL women’s clubs play a major part in the development of players to play top level club football in Australia and this is something that Danielle highlights is an ongoing relationship.
“During the W-League, we attempt to keep communications with the Glory coaching staff regarding players. In 2020 we saw Perth Glory’s head coach Alex Epakis spectate at games and he is in touch with us about player discussions leading into the 2021/22 W-League campaign.”
Going into the new Western Australia NPL season, clubs had to negotiate the various obstacles caused by coronavirus. Danielle’s experience from the club’s perspective is generally positive.
“The snap lockdowns have caused rescheduling issues, however we have to be thankful for the position we are in compared to the rest of the world. We still get the ability to exercise and socialise and rescheduling a few games or training sessions is not a huge disruption.”
The club’s successes in 2020 had a positive impact on recruitment for the new season as Danielle highlights. “It was an exciting experience for 2021 roster. We wanted to keep the bulk of our squad and managed to strengthen in a few areas too. Our aims are to go one better in the league by finishing top and then end up in the final of the top four cup.”
Perth SC are presently in sixth place in the eight team WA NPLW, but only two points outside of the top four, who qualify for the Finals at the end of the season. We’ll be checking in with Danielle and the club later in the season.
Ben Gilby writes for Beyond90, Australia’s leading independent women’s football platform. Visit https://beyond90.com.au/
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