In the second part of Gabby Dal Busco‘s chat with Impetus’ Ben Gilby, Balcatta Etna’s former Young Matildas and Perth Glory W-League Grand Finalist reflects on life at Grindleford Reserve and NPL WA competition this season (10/8/22).
Above: An inspiration for the next generation – Gabby Dal Busco with youngsters at Balcatta Etna this season. Photo supplied by: Gabby Dal Busco.
Gabby Dal Busco is one of the most prominent players in Western Australia. She has played for the Young Matildas, represented the state, and played in a W-League Grand Final for Perth Glory.
As a player, she describes herself as “Pretty vocal. In fact, you can probably hear me a few suburbs away when we’re playing! I like to lead by example on the pitch, and value communication and work rate above all else. I like to play with the ball at my feet, and act as a sweeper for the back four. I’m quite confident in a one-on-one situation and use my positioning to my advantage.”
Whilst Balcatta have had success in making Cup Finals over the past couple of seasons, they have not quite been able to translate that form into a top-four place in the NPL, as Gabby reflected.
“The Night Series campaign felt like a nice reward for the hard work the girls put in over the pre-season period last year. Having a new coach on board meant players were fired up to secure a spot within the squad, and this created good competition.
Unfortunately, I was unable to play the majority of the Night Series campaign last season, as I had to undergo surgery after the first game. I was able to make it back for the final. I think the tenacity and fight from the girls was incredible and a real driver for our success in the Night Series campaign as well as the State Cup Final.
“Last season as a whole, definitely had its ups and downs. We started strong in the Night Series competition, however, found it difficult at times to find form during the season. Transitioning to a new coaching style took its time, but it created opportunities to change our playing style and give players opportunities to develop their game further.
“A number of injuries to key players contributed to inconsistencies in our starting 11, but allowed other players to step in and develop their skills at a first-team level, which was pleasing to see.”
This year’s campaign began with a trip to another Night Series Cup Final, but this time, after building an early 2-0 lead, Balcatta Etna succumbed to Northern Redbacks.
“It was a really tough game, and it always is against just an established and strong team like Redbacks, now Perth RedStar, Gabby said. “It was great to get an early lead in the game, and that momentum helped us to hold onto the game for the 90 minutes of regulation time. Redbacks showed their experience in the periods of extra time and came away with the win.
“However, it was really pleasing to see how we fought right until the end of the game. Despite conceding two goals, we did not stop working until that final whistle, so I was still super proud of the team and our efforts.”
It’s was a bit of a stop-start opening to the NPL season for Balcatta with COVID-related postponements and a number of the fixtures that they were able to play being against the higher-placed sides. Gabby reflected on those issues.
“The first few games were definitely a challenge in terms of generating momentum, and we had some inconsistent performances as a result. There was a quick turnaround from finishing the Night Series campaign, and there were undoubtedly some tired bodies on the pitch. The stop-start nature of the start of our season made it difficult to get into the swing of things, considering, by round six we had only played about three games.
“When we were able to play week in, week out, we were able to get some good results, both at home and on the road, and find our rhythm. As a team, it is very important for us to push for a top-four spot.
“The culture within our team is something I don’t think I’ve ever experienced elsewhere. The bond that we all share is quite unique and special. Most of the girls playing at Balcatta Etna I have known for over 10 years.
“Players like Monique Godding, Kim McCartney, and Cass Harvey who I played with in state teams and at NTC for a number of years prior to being at Balcatta, as well as Tahlia and Monique D’Opera, Epril Nossent, and Alanah Veroni who I have played with at the club for a number of seasons at junior and senior level.
“We have all been through good times and bad together and have established lifelong friendships that will last beyond our footballing days.
Gabby has been in excellent form for Balcatta Etna this season, with some sensational shot-stopping. “It has been great to get some good performances on the board this season and start to push myself further and further each week at training.”
With the Balcatta Etna goalkeeper playing so well, this season, there is the inevitable question about the potential for a return to Perth Glory and A-League Women football.
“To be honest, whenever I am asked about returning to Perth Glory, it is actually a very difficult question for me to answer. I enjoyed the opportunity to play for Perth Glory and the Young Matildas very much – as challenging as it was from a training point of view, I was able to experience training with some of the best in the world.
“For majority of my career at Perth Glory, I felt very supported to pursue academics as well as high-level sport, and I was able to balance these commitments whilst still enjoying the game.
“The last year I was involved with Perth Glory, I sustained an injury that meant I wasn’t able to play during the season. Being on the sidelines opened my eyes to another side of professional sport. The next year, my contract at Perth Glory was not renewed, after a discussion that forced me to decide to either continue to be involved with Perth Glory or pursue my Physiotherapy degree.
“These experiences have helped to shape me as a good leader both within my team at Balcatta Etna, but also as my role as a Physiotherapist and Clinical Lead within my work team. I currently work as a Physiotherapist in neurological rehabilitation, so you are constantly having to juggle and adapt to ever-changing situations.”
After putting in a consistent number of hugely impressive performances for Balcatta Etna this season, Dal Busco has not given up hopes of returning to Perth Glory, as she revealed.
“After some time away from the A-League Women, I have been able to find my love for the game again and am enjoying pushing myself at training and during games. Perth Glory/the A-League is definitely something I have considered returning to – hopefully with continued good performances in the NPLW, we will see what the future holds!”
To read the first part of this interview, CLICK HERE: https://impetusfootball.org/2022/08/03/gabby-dal-busco-on-playing-alongside-some-of-the-w-leagues-greatest/