In the latest of our WA on Wednesday series featuring NPL WA Women’s players, Balcatta Etna’s Monique Prinsloo speaks to Impetus’ Ben Gilby about representing Western Australia in athletics and football, plus life at Balcatta and in the NPL WA (22/6/22).
Above: Monique Prinsloo in action for Balcatta Etna this season. Photo: JASP Photography via Monique Prinsloo.
Monique Prinsloo is one of a group of youngsters in Western Australia (WA) who continue to show great promise in the early stages of their careers.
An impressive former member of the Hyundai NTC side, Prinsloo has represented her state overseas, despite coming to the sport relatively late on.
“I did competitive athletics for many years and was relatively successful in it, representing WA at the Nationals in Sydney (2017). It was during one of the school holiday sports programs where my brother (GJ Prinsloo) and I were introduced to football and I was asked by one of the holiday staff who coached a girls’ team to join his U12 team for Woodvale FC.
“From then on the journey began as I choose football over athletics. Soon after, in 2016 I was selected for the U13 NTC girls’ team coached by Faye Chambers and moved through their program until ageing out at the end of the 2021 season with the NTC U19’s team coached by Ben Anderson, assisted by Sam Geddes.
“During my time with NTC I had the privilege in representing WA in two National Youth Championships and an oversees tour to China in January 2019. This was an amazing experience getting to play against countries such as Sweden, China and Russia.
“I believe NTC was a period in my life that greatly developed me into the player I am today. I have recently moved over to Balcatta Etna as I noticed during my playing years the footballing style they play and the family like community they possess. I knew that I wanted to play for them. Fast forward to now and I’m extremely happy in Balcatta Etna.
“My teammates are such awesome people and it makes playing football through the ups and downs even more special knowing you’ve created some great connections with each one of them. Although I am new this season, I have been welcomed so nicely by all of them and it feels like a tight family community.”
In terms of how she sees herself as a player, Monique told me: “I’d like to think I have a high work-rate and eagerness on and off the ball. I believe I can be an attacking threat with my pace an advantage. If there were three words to describe myself as a player I’d say; quick, hardworking and passionate.”
Growing up, the Balcatta attacker had several important female sporting role models. “Sally Pearson (2012 Olympic 100m hurdles champion) is one. I was privileged enough to compete against, and really stood out for me the most over the years. In terms of football Rachel Hill played for Perth Glory with Sam Kerr a few years ago. Her playing style was exactly how I wanted to play and her chemistry on the pitch with Sam was something I really tried implementing in my game.
“Her speed and her eagerness to win the ball was a style of the game I wanted to adopt into my own. I’m grateful that once I picked up the boots I had many female role models in the sport and can see the tremendous efforts by those players in growing the sport into what it has become today.”
Prinsloo represented Western Australia in the National Youth Football Championships in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, an experience that she still looks back fondly on.
“After being unsuccessful the year prior, I made the decision to work extremely hard to be selected next time. So, when I got that email I was over the moon and proud to have been selected. After representing WA twice at the National Youth Championships, it was no doubt that the environment felt extremely professional, having buses transport us to and from the game, having multiple recovery pool sessions, team tactics every afternoon and video analysis when we can.
“The experience showed me how it feels to be a professional, independent and surrounded by the best athletes in our age group. It was something that excited me. Obviously the nerves were extremely high, seeing all the scouts scattered across the venue was most definitely nerve wracking. If you had one chance to show them what you’ve got, it was then and you never knew when they were looking or not.
“In my first year competing, I scored five goals for WA and that was huge! To being unsuccessful the year before to scoring five goals the next year was a huge credit to myself and my motivation to prove myself as a player.
“The following year I scored the opener against Melbourne Victory and it is a goal I will never forget. All the matches were difficult. Quality amongst every player in the opposition team and the unknown opponents made it difficult to prepare well enough to have any real prediction of the game.
“The National Youth championships is a milestone in my playing career and I’m extremely grateful to have been a part of that tournament.”
Another high point in the earlier stages of Monique’s career was winning the Golden Boot in the U23 state Premier League.
“Scoring my first league header in this season was an absolute highlight. The season on a whole was probably the most crucial season in my development as a player as I learnt so much about the game.”
Monique’s move to Balcatta Etna for the start of this season saw her as part of the squad that played in this year’s Night Series Final against Northern Redbacks. After building a 2-0 lead after 10 minutes, Balcatta went on to lose in extra-time.
“It was extremely tough. We put our bodies on the line, fought hard for 120 minutes is rather hard physically. I can speak for most girls in saying that the next day especially was very difficult. Our bodies were all so sore and our hearts felt the same.
“In a game like that there is always a winner and loser and unfortunately the result didn’t go our way, but I think getting to the final was a huge achievement in itself and the girls should be so proud of that.”
However, Monique believes the team are in a good place to bounce back to have a strong season in the NPL. It was a tough start for Balcatta who had a stop-start beginning to the campaign due to COVID-related postponements, but there are promising signs with the team now on an unbeaten run and up into fourth place.
“This season hasn’t necessarily started the best for us but I do think that we have amazing new additions to the team that will surely throw some teams off.
“Tayna Campos among the new additions has the potential of creating a huge threat for other teams. Existing players such as Gabby Dal Busco, Monique Godding, Alanah Veroni and the D’Opera twins provide quality experience that the team builds upon each week.
“I believe that once we find our rhythm we will be very dangerous and could potentially cause some disruption to other teams’ campaigns. I believe Balcatta Etna tries to implement a possession-based approach, exploiting the space and using the assets of our players to advance into the final third and create good goal scoring opportunities.
“As a club, I know we are aiming to be in the top four teams this season. Something I do think is possible with the coaching staff and quality players in the team.
“In terms of personal goals, I’d have to say this season I’m focusing on enjoying the game. I believe all players should love the game to be able to succeed. Faye Chambers (NTC U15’s coach) once said to me, ‘Every game has only one ball and two goals, nothing’s different, you’ve got to be comfortable being uncomfortable to really preform under pressure.’
“This statement is my goal for this season. I would like to improve my attacking game awareness and develop in tight situations where I may lose my creatively due to myself being uncomfortable.”
More widely, Monique believes this season across the NPL WA Women’s competition is more unpredictable than ever.
“I think this season is so unique. There have been many changes in the squads across the teams and I think that is creating a spanner in the works. Each week is somewhat of a mystery having so many quality players scattered across each team.
“I think it’s going to be a tough season for all especially the COVID setbacks but I have a feeling its going to be very different from last season. Fremantle City, Perth RedStar and Perth SC will be among the most dangerous teams this season, followed closely by the rest. No team is guaranteed the league title making it even more interesting.”