Australian Round-Up

It’s been another week packed full of player signings and the first kits for the new season have been unveiled. Ben Gilby brings you the views of all the players, coaches and officials involved.

Canberra United re-sign two major players:

Above: Grace Maher (right) is back in lime green for 2021/22. Photo: Canberra Times

Canberra United has secured another two re-signings for 2021/22, with the outstanding Grace Maher and talented goalkeeper Keeley Richards committing for the upcoming season.

At 22, midfielder Maher has played 59 W-League matches, and amassed 1,006 minutes of football last season with 533 passes at 72% accuracy.

Maher spent the W-League off-season playing in the NPL NSW Women’s competition with APIA Leichhardt, playing 11 matches before the season was suspended due to Covid.

The Majura FC local has always called Canberra home and said she’s excited to build on last season’s results.

“I am proud and excited to be back in green this season,” Maher said.

“We had a successful campaign to get back into finals football last year and I cannot wait to be here to help build on that. 

“Canberra is my home and the feeling of playing for United is something I don’t get at other clubs.

“This season is set to be exciting and I think building off what we created last year and improving those finer details will be key for us this year”.

Speaking on her re-signing, Canberra United Head Coach Vicki Linton said “It is great having players such as Grace who are so passionate about playing for the club.

“Grace continues to grow as a professional player and it will be good to work with her again this season and to see that continued development.”

Above: Keeley Richards – back at Canberra United for 2021/22. Photo: Canberra Times

Goalkeeper Keeley Richards joined the club for the 2020/21 season, managing three clean sheets for the side, including in her debut against the Western Sydney Wanderers in round five.

Richards spent the off-season with Logan United in the Queensland NPLW, where she has made more than 100 appearances for the club over five seasons.

Richards said it was an easy decision to come back to Canberra for her second season in the W-League.

“The experience last year was incredible and the opportunity to continue to work with and learn from Chantel Jones and Vicki Linton was something I jumped at,” Richards said.

“The culture of the club is like no other team I’ve been involved with and it’s a privilege to be a part of that again.”

Richards added she’s determined to go one better with the team this upcoming season.

“Getting knocked out in the semi last year was tough, it would be amazing to be able to take it one step further this season.”

Head Coach Vicki Linton said she’s looking forward to seeing what Keeley can do in her second season of W-League.

“It is good to have Keeley back,” Vicki said.

“After making her debut last season I am sure she will be keen to get back into the environment, continue to develop and learn and build on her performance from last year.”

The announcements of Maher and Richards bring Canberra’s signings announced for Season 14 of the W-League to six, joining Michelle Heyman, Emma Ilijoski, Laura Hughes and Allira Toby.

Melbourne City add another four:

Melbourne City FC have announced the signing of youngsters Sally James, Holly McNamara, Caitlin Karic, and Darcey Malone for the upcoming W-League season.  

Artwork courtesy of: Melbourne City

One of the country’s brightest young goalkeeping talents, 18 year-old James endured a tough run with injury last season which limited her to just three W-League appearances. This wasn’t enough to hold the youngster back as she was called up to the Matildas Transition Camp in June 2021 which was held in Sweden.  

She also has been involved with the Young Matildas program since 2020 and will be looking to put her best foot forward in her first season in Melbourne.  

James will be looking to follow in the steps of City’s past two keepers; Teagan Micah and Lydia Williams, who are currently battling it out for the number one Matildas jersey.  

Head Coach Rado Vidosic said: “We’re excited to have one of Australia’s best young keepers joining the Club this season.  

Sally is a proactive, modern goalkeeper, who will suit our style of play well. She’s a hard-worker and there’s no doubt she has a promising future. We look forward to her arriving in Melbourne and working with her to help her reach her full potential.”  

James was looking forward to representing the club: “I decided to join City to step out of my comfort zone and to challenge myself in a new environment.  The coaching staff have shown a lot of faith in me, and I’ll give 100% of myself to repay that. I’m excited to meet the team and the coaching staff, as well as learning the City style of play.”

Striker Holly McNamara and midfielder Darcey Malone (both 18-years-old) have both signed two-year deals, while 15-year-old attacker Caitlin Karic has signed on for 2021/22. 

McNamara is a former Young Matilda who has spent the last four years at the Football New South Wales Institute and is regarded as one of the brightest young strikers in the country. 

She has captained the Institute and had scored five goals this season prior to the NPL NSW season being suspended due to COVID-19. 

Speaking about being given a deal at City, McNamara said: “I’m really looking forward to getting some W-League experience and hopefully getting some game time under my belt. 

“City have the best facilities and coaching in the country as well as playing a big role in the development of younger players. I’m very excited to be a part of it.” 

Above: Caitlin Karic, Holly McNamara and Darcey Malone – all teenagers signed by Melbourne City this week. Photos supplied by: Melbourne City.

Karic is an exciting young player who will bring plenty of talent to our attacking third and provide further flexibility to Rado Vidosic’s playing squad. 

The young attacking midfielder will be looking to learn plenty from the more senior members of the squad. She is also no stranger to City, having been part of the Melbourne City College of Football program at Overnewton College since she was just ten. 

She was hugely excited by the opportunity in front of her: “I’m really looking forward to playing in a professional environment and playing alongside and learning from the experienced players.

“Rado Vidosic is an experienced coach who I think I can learn a lot from, so I’m very excited to play under him.”

Malone already has a couple of W-League appearances under her belt, along with experience in the Junior Matildas set-up. Her composure on the ball and football knowledge beyond her years will see her challenging for game time this season. 

She said that after holding talks with Rado Vidosic, it was an easy decision to sign: City’s style of play really suits my game and I feel I can contribute to the team in that regard.

“City is the most successful club in the W-League with a very professional set up and a great team culture. I am excited to be a part of what Rado is building and I feel very lucky to be included in his plans.”

Sky Blues’ head coach Rado Vidosic believes that he has signed some of the best young players that Australia has to offer.

“We’re excited to be bringing in three of the best young footballing talents in Australia. Holly is one of the top young strikers in the country and we’re very happy to have her joining the Club. She has pace, is technically gifted, and we believe she’ll fit in well with our style of play. 

“Caitlin is an attacking threat and certainly has a bright future ahead of her. We’re excited to work with her and help her develop into the player we know she can become. 

Darcey joins us with some previous W-League experience, and she’s also spent time in the Junior Matildas set-up. Her qualities fit seamlessly into our style of play, and we look forward to seeing her improve this season.” 

Following these signings, City now has 13 players confirmed in its 2021/22 playing squad, including Emma Checker, Rebekah Stott, Kaitlyn Torpey and Tori Tumeth.

Perth Glory Add Sadie Lawrence:

Artwork supplied by: Perth Glory

Perth Glory have confirmed the signing of midfielder Sadie Lawrence nine seasons after she last played for the club.

The 28-year-old returns to the Glory fold having previously made 17 W-League appearances in the famous purple between 2009 and 2012.

With ten goals from 21 games for Murdoch University Melville FC, Lawrence has been in stellar form in the NPLW WA this season and the former Australia Under-20s representative is now hugely excited at the prospect of re-igniting her W-League career.

“To be back playing for Glory is something that I’ve wanted for such a long time,” she said, “and I couldn’t be happier or more grateful to have this opportunity.

“My aim is to just play the best football I possibly can and do the best for my home-state club.

“I’m really looking forward to working with (Head Coach) Alex Epakis and hopefully I can help get the club to where it wants to be.”

Above: Sadie Lawrence in action for Perth Glory back in 2009. Photo: Paul Kane/Getty Images.

Epakis, meanwhile, is confident that Lawrence can make a major contribution in the coming campaign.

“I am ecstatic to have Sadie back at Perth Glory this season,” he said. “She has previously represented the club very proudly and will add a further level of depth and quality to our spine this year.

“I have been watching the NPLW WA very closely this season and she has been a consistent standout player. I believe she has the mind-set and leadership qualities to be a really valued member of our squad.

“I’m really looking forward to working with Sadie and am backing her to work very hard and help the team in achieving our goals this season.”

Glory CEO Tony Pignata also feels that the signing of Lawrence will be welcomed by the club’s Members and fans.

“Sadie is another example of our commitment to giving local WA players an opportunity to represent their home-state club,” he said.

“Alex (Epakis) is assembling an exciting and dynamic mix of local, interstate and international players whom we are confident will make Glory highly-competitive and very entertaining to watch in the W-League this season.”

First New Kit News:

Adelaide United and Perth Glory launched their home and away kits for the new W-League season this week.

Above: The new Adelaide United shirt for 2021/22. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Adelaide United.

First up were the South Australians whose new design, supplied by UCAN, returns to a conventional all red kit, contrasting last year’s generous use of navy across the shoulders. 

The design is complemented by a distinctive coral pattern on the sides which references one of South Australia’s native flora, the Swainsona formosa, commonly known as the Sturt’s desert pea. 

The look is complete with red shorts and red socks, with the outside of the shorts also employing the Sturt’s desert pea pattern in coral.

Adelaide United’s Head of Marketing and Communications, Marius Zanin, said: “We’re very excited to launch such a classic looking Adelaide United home shirt for the upcoming season. 

“We believe this design balances perfectly between a reflection of the past and consideration of the future while paying homage to the State of South Australia.”

For the ninth successive season, SA Power Networks will be visible on the front of the shirt.

Above: Adelaide United’s new away shirt for the W-League. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Adelaide United.

The away kit incorporates the State colours of South Australia, utilising navy blue accompanied by shades of dusk blue with a gradient pattern to represent the rolling vineyards of the iconic South Australian wine region along with fluro red detailing on the neckline, cuffs, and bottom of the shirt.

Navy shorts and navy socks complement the jersey with the gradient pattern also visible on the sides of the shorts. 

Adelaide United’s Head of Marketing and Communications, Marius Zanin, said: “In keeping with our theme of incorporating elements of South Australia into our jerseys, we opted to pay homage to the State’s world class wine region. The lined patterns scattered across the playing top reflects the rows of vines throughout the countless vineyards South Australia has to offer. I believe this jersey will resonate with our fans because of its uniqueness and it really captures the imagination as it is something we haven’t done before.”

Above: Hana Lowry (far left) shows off the new Perth Glory home kit with Tash Rigby (far right) displaying the new away kit. Photo supplied to Impetus by: Perth Glory.

Perth Glory‘s new kit, supplied by Macron was launched to mark the club’s 25th anniversary, and aims to be fusion of the old and the new, featuring the original Glory badge and a 1996 embossed pattern within the fabric of the home shirt and a teal colour for the away strip.

Glory’s traditional orange trim is well represented on the home and away kits and the club’s OneGlory hashtag is once again displayed on the back of the collar.

Perth Glory CEO Tony Pignata believes that with the input of Members and fans having played a crucial role in the design process, both kits will prove very popular.

“The feedback we received last year was overwhelmingly in favour of moving away from what had become the club’s traditional away colour of white, hence the switch to teal which has emerged as a very popular colour choice with a number of leading clubs around the world this year.

“Another priority was, of course, to incorporate a celebration of our 25th anniversary into the kit design and via the inclusion of the retro badge and embossed 1996 design, we believe that has been achieved.”

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