Ipswich Bulls take City League rivals to Church
THE charge from Church League Division 2 to City League 1 champions continues for the Ipswich City Bulls' senior women on Friday night.
The Bulls host UQFC in a qualifying final at Sutton Park.
The Bulls secured their place in Friday's encounter with a 3-0 win over Eastern Suburbs on Sunday, finishing the season with 15 wins and three losses. In the process, the Bulls also claimed the regular season premiership.
Should the Bulls win through to the grand final and complete the premiership-championship double, it will add yet another chapter to the remarkable narrative the team has written in just four short years.
"We built the team from scratch in Church League Division 2," Bulls striker and assistant coach Nikkita Cox said.
"We did really well and won the premiership and grand final that year, then moved up to Division 1. We won the premiership and grand final again, then the following year we did the same.
"This year we just wanted a challenge, so we came across (to City League) and have now been promoted to Capital League next year."
Cox, this season's City League 1 Golden Boot winner, said the team would be making history should they stay together next season, as the highest-ever ranked Ipswich City Bulls women's side.
But Cox maintains if not for coach Andy Haywood's influence, the side may have never even come together, let alone shared in such success.
"Many of us didn't know each other beforehand - we came together because we knew (Haywood) and wanted to play under him," Cox said.
"For me he was a family friend. Andy was my little sister's junior coach from way back when. A couple of the other girls he also coached in juniors - he's just a really lovely coach.
"We came together and just hit it off, and I think that's what makes us a special team. There's no clique, everyone is always there for each other. As corny as it sounds we feel more like sisters (than teammates), and every year our bond gets stronger."
Haywood may have set the foundations, but the club provided the bricks and mortar for success.
"It's quite rare for a women's team to get priority, especially if there's a dominant men's team there," Cox said.
"The club lets us pick our training nights, (bought) our jerseys and got us top of the range (soccer) balls. They look after us, and really make us feel valued."
That dedication to the women's side of the game has paid immediate dividends for the Bulls, adding teams in City League 2 and the Under 16s Division 1 this season.
The League 2 side finished one place shy of a maiden finals berth, but the under 16s secured fourth-place and will harbour finals hopes of their own.
"We have a lot more junior girls coming through which is awesome," Cox said.
"The club has done a fantastic job of promoting the women's teams, and at the end of the day getting more girls playing is what we're aiming for."
Cox, whose fledgling career in the sport has already included a stint with Western Pride in the National Premier League, hopes those juniors can continue to improve and soon follow in her footsteps.
"From there, (the next goal is) developing a pathway for the players to move on," Cox said.
"Once they're ready, hopefully they can be playing at the Pride."