CLEAR VISION: Western Pride's head of juniors Andrew Catton is eager to keep the best young footballers in the Ipswich area.
CLEAR VISION: Western Pride's head of juniors Andrew Catton is eager to keep the best young footballers in the Ipswich area. Cordell Richardson

Football focus on looking after our best young players

AS someone with strong school and club football ties, Andrew Catton wants to see talent developed in Ipswich.

The Ipswich Grammar School Sports and Curricular Co-ordinator, Director of Football and Cricket, and head coach of the IGS First XI is focused on helping young players.

That's why Catton is back working with the Western Pride junior program after a season as technical director with the Ipswich Knights.

"I'm really passionate about that (regional junior development),'' Catton said.

"I just don't see why they (good young players) should need to leave.

"I want them to stay here (Western Pride) or I want them to be at Knights or at Bulls.

"Clubs in our region need to get themselves in a position where players don't feel like they have got to leave.''

Before his short stint at the Knights, Catton assisted junior National Premier Leagues teams at Western Pride.

He coached the under 13s at Pride from the end of 2013 after he moved down from Hervey Bay. He continued coaching in 2015, developing a young group as head coach in 2017 until he accepted the technical director role at the Knights.

Now living at Wulkuraka, he reflected on his experience at the Knights.

"I enjoyed working there,'' Catton, 31, said.

"I guess the reason I left, and I don't mind saying it, is because I feel a technical director role in a club that big needs to be a full-time position. And I just couldn't devote the time to it that it needed.

"Once you consider a QPL (Premier League) program plus the divisional Komodos, the women's program - the time required for all - I just think it needs to be a full-time position.

"It was a great club. I hope that there's no hard feelings because there is a lot of good people there.''

Catton wished new Knights technical director Jason Buchanan well, working with his team of Knights coaches.

"I'm really interested to see how their senior team goes this year under (Knights head coach) Andy Ogden,'' Catton said. "I think they will go really well. He's a good bloke.

"From my point of view, it was a great learning experience.''



Western Pride Junior Coach Andrew Catton.
Andrew Catton. Cordell Richardson

Catton hopes his return to Pride works better, juggling his many school roles with his drive to help Ipswich achieve a future A-League licence.

Next year, he'll be heading the Pride's NPL juniors - the 13-16 boys and the under-13 and under-15 girls.

"For me, it's a good opportunity and the expectations of a technical director aren't on me and I get to focus more on the kids,'' he said.

He started in October.

Catton will work with established coaches like former Matildas goalkeeper Belinda Kitching (overseeing the women's program) and Pride senior team player Jacob Minett (running the SAP program).

"We get on really well and I'm going to do a little bit in that world too, which I'm looking forward to,'' he said.

With trials over for the year, the focus switches to junior training resuming on January 10.

"It's been good,'' Catton said, planning a quiet Christmas with his wife Maree before stepping up his 2019 priorities.

"The level that the teams are at already is pretty exciting.''

He's been impressed with the junior boys at Pride and was keen to help the young girls achieve higher standards, following on from the club's premiership and grand final-winning under-13 side this year.

"They've got good coaches in the 13 and 15 girls so I think they will go well eventually,'' he said.

"The quality within the 13-16 boys teams is better than anything I've ever seen at this club, so I'm really excited about what the under-13s will do.

"I think the 14s will be outstanding as well.''