Three Liberty A-League Women clubs have this week made head coach-related announcements.
Western Sydney Wanderers appointed Kat Smith today for the next two seasons.
The AFC/FFA Pro Licence holder comes to Western Sydney after plying her trade at both a domestic and national team level, having held coaching roles within the A-Leagues and Matildas set-up.
Smith was formerly the assistant coach at Melbourne Victory and during her time at the club was named the 2018 Female Coach of the Year and was called up to join the Matildas’ technical staff as a scout for the FIFA 2019 Women’s World Cup in France.
More recently, Smith has been balancing her time between an analyst and assistant role with the Junior Matildas (Australia’s U17s squad) as well as being the head coach of Alamein FC, one of the eight inaugural teams in the Victorian Women’s National Premier League.
The next two seasons at the club will see Smith mentored and supported by the Wanderers Head of Women’s Football, Tom Sermanni, with the duo tasked to build the foundations for the next generation of national team players to come from Western Sydney.
Western Sydney Wanderers CEO Scott Hudson welcomed Kat to the club by saying: “Kat has had such a range of experience and leads the direction in where we want to go as a club in building our women’s team and program.
“It is very important that we give opportunities to young domestic coaches and we build the team over the next two seasons to breed consistency and success. We are also proud to have Tom Sermanni involved to help guide and mentor one of the best up and coming coaches in the country.”
Head of Women’s Football Tom Sermanni praised the appointment. “The key thing here is that it’s a significant appointment on several levels. When you look at Kat’s background, you see that she has accumulated an impressive resume in football to get to this stage.
“Kat is a fantastic example for aspiring coaches having been part of the elite youth level, senior Matildas staff, an assistant coach, and a head coach in the National Premier League.
“This shows that she’s ready to be running our women’s program as she has built the foundations of her coaching career.”
Kat Smith herself said she was excited to be starting her journey at the Red & Black. “It’s really exciting. The timing of the opportunity couldn’t be any better given it’s on the eve of the boom of women’s football in this country. I’m really excited to take on this opportunity at such a big club and ride that wave to bring success on and off the field.
“In sport, we know that continuity does drive performance. Success breeds off the back of that so to have the opportunity to build that over the next two seasons is something that I hope will lead towards results and success.
“Obviously, there’s the aspiration in this league to make Finals as that is the structure in place for the Liberty A-League competition.
“My driver is to be the best version of myself for these players as they have so many opportunities in front of them. For me personally, it’s bringing something to their journey and to their lives that’s positive and that’s going to create change and success for them.”
Canberra United have announced that Njegosh Popovich has been appointed as Head Coach for Season 15 of the Liberty A-League.
It’s a return home for Popovich who was Assistant Coach in the national Capital from September 2015 to March 2017 helping the club to the runners-up spot in season eight and then helping them be crowned Premiers the following year.
“I am thrilled to have been appointed as Head Coach for Canberra United and am very excited about getting started at the club,” Popovich said of the announcement.
“My aim is to put Canberra United back on the map in the Liberty Women’s A-League. The club has a strong and proud history, and we should be challenging for league titles and playing in Grand Finals.
“My goal is to achieve that, and I am confident that we can regain our position as one of the most prominent clubs in the competition.”
Popovich has quite some pedigree in the coaching world coming into the United set-up off the back of a successful five-year stint as Assistant Coach with the Junior Matildas where he was part of the squad that finished 4th at the AFC Women’s Championship in Thailand in 2019.
“We considered a number of potential candidates for the role of Head Coach and Njegosh’s profile ticked all the right boxes for us as an organisation,” Canberra United CEO Chris Gardiner commented.
“Njegosh brings a highly valued CV, an understanding of Women’s football, and is across the local football scene. He is Canberra-born, has experience through Canberra United, and is a very capable Canberra local to lead the club forward.
“I’ve never received such strong references in a selection process, and in this instance, both as a coach and as a person, I am very confident he is the right coach for the Club, the key players we have and want, and the ALW in 2022/23.
“We are looking forward to welcoming Njegosh back to Canberra United.”
Popovich was formerly the Technical Director and Head Coach at National Premier League side Monaro Panthers, Assistant Coach at Canberra Olympic in the same competition and was Head Coach for the ACT Schoolboys and the Canberra United Academy U15 and U18 representative teams.
As a player he represented the ACT at youth, school, and senior-level, toured with the Australian Futsal Team to Brazil in 1995 and won several titles with Canberra Olympic. He also played in the National Soccer League with the Canberra Cosmos and the NSW Super League for both Canberra City and Inter Monaro.
Meanwhile, Newcastle Jets are pleased to announce the re-signing of A-League Women’s Head Coach Ash Wilson for the upcoming 2022/23 Liberty A-League season.
Wilson will enter her third season as the helm of the Jets Women’s side and her eighth as part of the team’s coaching ranks as the Club look to build on the promising foundation that’s been created over the past two campaigns.
The Jets Head Coach said she was pleased to extend her tenure and is grateful for the opportunity to continue growing the Women’s team.
“I’m very excited and proud to continue my role with the Newcastle Jets,” Wilson said.
“All I have ever wanted was to support the Club and the community to achieve success and to play a brand of football that epitomises the spirit of the town.
“We have faced our challenges over the past two seasons, but there has also been plenty of growth and potential and I’m thankful the Club has backed me to continue to do the job I set out to do.”
Newcastle Jets Executive Chairman Shane Mattiske said: “We’re delighted to confirm Ash as the coach once again for the upcoming A-League Women’s competition.
“She has a great connection with this Club and the community, and we are looking forward to building on her wealth of experience with a strong team around her on and off the field.”