Pride captain’s valuable roles helping others, scoring goals
COMMUNITY minded first-time Western Pride captain Meaghan McElligott was quick to display her leadership skills in her team's season-opening Women's National Premier League match.
The former Logan Lightning striker scored two goals to keep her side in the match at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
Although Western Pride ended up losing 6-3 to Moreton Bay United, McElligott was a constant threat upfront, adjusting to her new role.
"Definitely,'' she said when asked if she was enjoying the added responsibility.
"It's the first time being captain and a huge challenge for me as a player to focus on that side of it. But if I can find a balance, I'm keen for the challenge.
"It's such a good group of girls and we get such good support here at the club with Pye (operations manager Pye Augustine) and Trent (head coach Trent Gregson) and Pat (general manager Pat Boyle).
"It's a very exciting role to have but definitely new to me.''
The Pride newcomer travels regularly from the Gold Coast to play and train.
"I used to play up on the wing or striker so now that I've dropped in at the 10 it's slowed my game down. I feel like I'm getting to be a more mature aged player.
"So it's cool. It's changing.
"It's just a new challenge and a move for me and my partner April.''
McElligott grew up in Port Macquarie and played in Newcastle before moving to Queensland for her Bachelor of Sport Development university studies when she was 27.
Working in community disability sports, she helps run gym programs, organise personal training and set up different sport and recreation activities.
"It's an awesome job, really rewarding,'' she said, having also played in the NPL for the past five seasons.
As for her valuable football contribution on Saturday, McElligott hoped it was the start of many more having won a 2018 Golden Boot award when playing with Moreton Bay.
"It was a tough game but I'm happy to get that,'' McElligott said of her early double.
After conceding three goals in the first 15 minutes, the new-look Pride side could have thrown in the proverbial towel.
But apart from that opening stanza, they matched Moreton Bay United for the remainder of the game.
"I think it was a slow start and then maybe not switched on from the get-go but proud of the team to turn things around and get a couple of goals and not let them get away in the end,'' the captain said.
Trailing 4-2 at halftime, the Pride women never gave up.
"We all from different teams and different leagues as well,'' McElligott said.
"Our pre-season was getting to know each other and getting to play alongside each other so that's always a huge challenge. But it's a long season and I know we can do it and I know we have the players.
"It's just blending. It's learning and we know what we need to fix.''
More than half the team are from the Gold Coast, carpooling to games and training.
"We train at Springfield so it's not too bad,'' McElligott said.
The dry heat on a Saturday afternoon didn't help either team.
While sharing his team's first-up disappointment, head coach Trent Gregson expected his team to become a powerful unit this season.
"There were some really promising signs,'' Gregson said.
"Our attack was really good.
"We got caught out in some transition points and Moreton Bay capitalised. They are new good young team.''
Gregson's halftime message to his players was to forget that opening period of play.
"We didn't come out prepared or we didn't come out mentally ready, we weren't up for those 15 minutes and there's no excuse I can make for it,'' he said.
"We blew the cobwebs out now.
"We know we've got a lot of ladies who haven't played at this level before and I hope that was a real wake-up call for them.''
Among Pride's best once they fired up were fitness fanatic Kate Webb who covered large parts of the field creating chances.
Webb scored Pride's second goal, either side of her captain's net-finding efforts.
Right winger Gladys Esquivel and defender April Gleeson were also heavily involved in attack, providing some neat crosses.
Jascinta Perrin played her first senior game with Pride in 2030 days, according to former club stats man Garry McKenzie.
"This is a record between drinks for any Pride senior player,'' McKenzie said.
Megan Hellmuth was 1810 days with Ayman Adam 1715 days.
The team has key signing Abbey Lloyd (recovering from an ankle injury) and experienced WNPL campaigner Danielle White on her way back from Texas to join the squad.
"They are two big inclusions we'll hopefully have back in the next two-three weeks,'' the coach said.
One of Gregson's major goals joining Pride was to strengthen the club culture between the women and girls.
He organised for his players to run a session with Pride's under-12 girls at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex last Wednesday night.
"That was sensational to come and work with those 12 girls,'' he said.
"As much as we are here to win football games, we are also here to give back.''
He said having his senior players work with the youngsters was "fantastic''.
"Those girls will benefit so much from it and we had fun too,'' he said.
McElligott welcomed Gregson's promotion as an NPL coach, after he had previously enjoyed success in the Brisbane Premier League.
The Western Pride under-23 women's side lost their first game 6-2 to Moreton Bay United.
The Western Pride women head to Meakin Park for their next WNPL match against QAS next Saturday.
The Western Pride men open their Football Queensland Premier League season against Sunshine Coast at Kawana next Sunday.
WNPL: Moreton Bay United 6 def Western Pride 3 (Meaghan McElligott 2, Kate Webb) at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.