International imports strengthen Pride’s NPL hopes
WITH a new-look side for this year's National Premier League's competition, Western Pride women's coach George Kalogeridis is wisely cautious about tipping too much.
However, with some quality imports already on board and more on the way, the former South Australian and Victorian footballer expects to win more games than last season.
Western Pride was competitive for much of last year's NPL without securing the victories needed to play finals football.
Pride open their 2020 campaign against Mitchelton at Teralba Park on Saturday night.
Since being recruited to Pride late last year, Kalogeridis has been busy building an impressive roster of new faces including Americans Bronwyn Boswell and Lauren Prott, Victorian sharpshooter Kelsey Minton, Italian Valentina Vismara and Brisbane Roar W-League goalkeeper Coco Majstorivic.
Boswell is finalising her visa.
Minton has been in the squad since January.
Vismara was on her way and Majstorovic could play this weekend if cleared by Roar.
Kalogeridis would have liked more training together in the pre-season, which has been hampered by poor weather, lack of game time and not having a full squad to work with.
"We're probably a little behind where I would like to be,'' he said, lamenting the wet weather issues and imports still arriving.
However, he believes this year's Pride squad will be much stronger once everyone trains and plays together.
His focus has been on improving his team's "organisation off the ball . . . and making ourselves hard to break down''.
"We have begun to put the framework in towards building a high performance culture in our program,'' the Pride coach said.
"Basically, it's been a complete change in team personnel and methods in our training.''
Minton arrived at Pride having been a golden boot winner in South Melbourne last season.
Boswell is expected to join Pride after a successful D1 College career in the states.
Prott played in the UEFA Champions League.
Former NPL women's player of the year Majstorovic previously played at Moreton Bay before gaining a contract at the Roar.
Tenacious centre midfielder Georgia Buchanan returns to the Pride side as captain this year.
Other re-signings include Taleisha Derrick, Ky Bousen and Maia Tighe.
"Whilst disappointed to have lost a lot of the previous players, it allows us to begin a new chapter,'' Kalogeridis said.
"I have every bit of confidence in the girls we have to make us successful.''
That included new skipper Buchanan.
"From the day I came on board, she has shown her leadership qualities and a genuine care for building our program,'' Kalogeridis said.
Other Pride staff assisting Kalogeridis this season include manager Simone Bousen.
Thomas Brusden is running the strength and conditioning component of the program.
The Pride women are training Monday and Tuesday nights at the Springfield Sporting Complex and Thursday nights at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
"I am settling in quite well while still trying to learn the football landscape in Queensland and dynamics of Brisbane,'' Kalogeridis said.
"We are entering a new chapter at Pride and I hope we get the support of the local Ipswich community while we try to build something special.
"I've assembled a great playing and coaching team and can't wait to start the season.''
NPL women: Saturday (6pm) - Western Pride v Mitchelton at Teralba Park.