Ipswich’s champion women’s team eye state league elevation
GIVEN the powerhouse season his team delivered, head coach Archy Kahondo believes the Ipswich City Bulls women need to be considered for a future National Premier Leagues (NPL) licence.
"We deserve to be in that NPL,'' Kahondo said.
Western Pride FC is the current Ipswich franchise holding a women's NPL licence.
There is no promotion-relegation in place for women's top flight football as there is for the men's NPL and Queensland Premier League.
Kahondo hopes that is considered in the next few years as the Bulls pursue an NPL opportunity.
He said his team could hold their own and perform strongly against most of the current NPL sides.
"If we are to be awarded that NPL (licence), we could have started the next day,'' he said.
"We're pretty confident we will keep all the girls so we should have a pretty decent squad next year again.''
After sharing in his team's latest Brisbane Women's Premier League (BWPL) championship success, Kahondo said the Ipswich club was well positioned for an NPL bid.
"We have got the program in place,'' he said.
"We had 166 women play last year and we had a team represent all the way from under 11s to seniors, including that City (competition) team as well.
"We have the depth there.
"At the end of the day, Ipswich is a small catchment. Only one team needs to be.
"But I think we definitely deserve an opportunity, especially after how dominant we were in the BWPL.''
Kahondo said one of the main reasons he took on the Bulls head coaching role this season was to help the club pursue its higher level football aspirations.
Although looking to coach in the NPL, Kahondo was planning to remain with the Bulls in next year's Brisbane Women's Premier League competition.
"We have a good group of women at Ipswich Bulls so it will be good to have another crack next year,'' he said.
The Bulls women had an incredible season, winning 13 of their 15 matches spread across an initial season and five extra games in a separate top six Premier competition.
The Bulls secured the championship when they overpowered Peninsula Power 7-1 a fortnight ago.
Virginia had earlier that day led main rivals Coomera 1-0 at halftime before winning as the Bulls completed their game.
"At that point, the girls didn't know so we kept that pretty quiet but from the smiles on my face, they could tell (they were about to become 2020 champions) because we were winning 5-0 at halftime,'' the coach said.
"When our game finished, we ran on to the pitch and it was quite ecstatic because the girls thought it (securing the title) would come down to Virginia (the last game).
"To do it earlier was good.''
The Bulls finished the season in style defeating Virginia 3-0 in their final match.
In the second stage Premier series, the Bulls also beat UQ 4-2 and Annerley 4-0, along with the crucial victory over Peninsula.
Second placed Coomera, the side Kahondo previously coached, was the only team to beat the Bulls in the top six series.
That was a 2-1 win. However, Coomera finished five points behind the Bulls across the whole season.
Kahondo praised his senior squad for their winning mentality and the way they focused on the season, battling through the COVID challenges and their own personal life issues.
He appreciated the trust from his players in a new coach that they didn't know much about.
Kahondo said the players were mature and embraced a new way of playing, resulting in the dominant season.
Overcoming stiff competition from Coomera was also satisfying.
"They've always been just a good team. That's why I came in the first place,'' he said.
"How they performed last year for whatever reasons.
"This year has been good . . . a good environment.
"I think it's a big achievement to only lose two games all season and I'm really proud the way they went.''
Bulls goal scorers like Shani Wilton, Nadine Keast, Natasha Ridley and Emma Barnes led the way.
"But we didn't just rely on one person,'' Kahondo said. "Everyone scored a decent number of goals as well to show the strength in the squad.''
Preparing for a family caravan trip north next month, Kahondo said it was important for his players to shut out football and have a break until the pre-season resumes in January.
"We finished last week. We've missed a month's break already,'' he said.
"It's just too much.
"They deserve a break. There's no real reason to get them in (before the new year).''