2021 – Just the Beginning for our Ambitious Women’s Development Program

17 Nov

Written by Howard John and Ryan Faithfull


It’s been 12 months since Ryan Faithfull was appointed Head of Women’s Football. We brought Ryan in to provide strategic leadership for our ever-increasing depth of talented female players. We have focused on developing players for our premier teams, international selection and overseas opportunities. Ryan was also tasked with developing initiatives that retain and grow the number of female players at all levels across the club.

2021 has seen the foundations laid to achieve the vision of becoming the best development pathway in Australasia. We want to share with you this reflection of the year that was.

NRFL Premier & Development Teams

Our Premier Women have established a reputation for an entertaining brand of football, big crowds & excitement under the Friday night lights at Seddon Fields.

Northern League: Our Premier Women lead the league for most of the season and were looking forward to an exciting run in with Eastern Suburbs. Sadly Covid hit and we finished in 2nd place.
Kate Sheppard Cup: We had an exciting cup run where we progressed to the quarter finals, before losing a close game to the defending champions.
National Women's League: Our 2nd place finish in the Northern League meant we qualified for the National Women League - a first for our club. 

We have achieved all of this by developing an inspirational and entertaining environment for our Junior and youth to aspire to be a part of. This year we saw six Development players feature in Premier Match Day squad and a total of 3124 mins played by U18 players. 

We are very proud to see homegrown Springs Academy players achieving NZF honors this season:

NZU17:  Lara Colpi
NZU20:  Emma Pijnenburg, Kitty Jacob

Lara Colpi comments "After the National U17 tournament I was invited to attend the trials for the Western Springs Women’s first team. There were a lot of very talented football players there and I feel very fortunate to have been picked to make the squad. Initially I found the transition to the squad daunting. I worked hard to get minutes on the field and prove myself. And as the season went on, I was happy to get more chances and was really happy to make my full debut and score my first senior goals. Ryan, Kelly, Caleb, Suzy, and their awesome support team put together a team I couldn’t be prouder of"

Lara Colpi, Emma Pijnenburg, Kitty Jacob

Girls Academy - U14s and U16 Squads

We were very proud to launch our Girls Academy this year. Our aim is to deliver a programme that prepares our Youth for Senior football and beyond. In order to achieve this we established clear standards and expectations to challenge our players. 

We’ve had an outstanding 12 months with many highlights, including;

  • Formalised Academy process - Calendar year teaching periodisation
  • Delivery & Alignment of Playing Style and Coaching methodology curriculum
  • Delivery of Video analysis to support individual & team learning
  • Individualised player feedback - Development planning
  • Youth players challenged to train/play with Premier/Development teams

“The coaches have worked hard this year to support the growth of the Girls Academy. We’re embedding the principles of a unique Style of play and focusing our efforts towards an aligned coaching methodology to improve the quality of learning opportunities for our players. We’ve already seen the significant growth of our Coaches and players in this method of delivery. This has been a foundation year for the Girls Academy and we’re aiming to invest & raise the bar for 2022.” Ryan Faithfull

We were lucky to have two U-17 Youth Football Tournaments in the last 12 months thanks to Covid.

We finished 4th in the 2020 tournament and went one place further this year. Losing the semifinal in a 14:13 penalty shoot-out to the eventual winners. We won the 3rd/4th playoff to finish 3rd. Our ambitions are to go one step further again in 2022.

Ryan comments “The U17 tournament is always a personal highlight of mine, a thoroughly enjoyable event and a great learning tool for our players to understand and perform our playing principles as a team.”

Juniors Football / PreAcademy - U9 - U12

We had a terrific season and it was so good to see so many girls training/playing hard and enjoying their football – the future is bright at Springs!

  • Our under 9s and 12s loved being mascots for the Prems match day squad. It was such an inspiration for them, with many of the girl’s teams asking to come back and mascot again.
  • The “Be Our Guest” programme and increasing numbers of female coaches is seeing a greater connection between the junior, youth and senior female players in the club 
  • Our U12 and U13 teams were selected for the Weir Rose Bowl tournament, always a great honour

Female Coach Development

A major focus for us this year was establishing a strong coaching network in the Female pathway.

  • We have developed Coaching workshops (formal and informal) to facilitate the growth of our nine female coaches.
  • It was the first time we have had all female coaches running the sessions at our very popular “WSAFC Girls Open Day”.
  • Term 4 Academy will see further development of our Female Coaches

Julie Dunn is the coach of the NRFL 2021 U14 girls team - “coaching has been a lot of fun! The coaching resources (game model, video clips, example training plans etc.) and support (from Ryan) has been fantastic – I really feel my coaching has taken a big step up. 

Our sessions with the other coaches provide a great opportunity to exchange ideas, learnings and experiences. Here’s hoping for a Covid free 2022 where I can continue to improve my coaching skills and use them to benefit more girls at WSAFC!”

Preparing for Term 4 and beyond

As with every club, Covid has been a challenge to overcome but we have continued to plan for term 4 building to 2022.

  • Continued Academy training in preparation for 2022 tournament selection for aged group tournaments including the U17s and preparing players for the 2022 season.
  • Continued to provide opportunities for Junior and Youth players to be involved on National League game days, through curtain raisers and being mascots
  • Establishing the coaching pool for our Academy and 2022 season to ensure we have the best coaches to help deliver our goals

We can’t quite believe it’s been 12 months, our foundations to become the leading development pathway in Australasia is set. We are off to a great start.

We look forward to what the next 12 months will bring!