Pride's professional approach tackles off-season challenges
FOOTBALL: As Western Pride head coach Terry Kirkham completes preparations for Saturday night's home game, his thoughts rarely wander from his master vision.
That is to create what he calls a "one-tunnel club'' at Ipswich's National Premier Leagues franchise.
Thrust into the head coaching role late, Kirkham concedes he has a big job building a new culture at Pride.
However, he's already taken positive steps to establish a professional team around him as Pride's top side continue their 2019 NPL campaign against Redlands United at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex.
"I want a club where the bottom is accessible to the top,'' Kirkham said, keen to create stronger ties between the men's, women's and junior programs.
Having helped former clubs like Moreton Bay and Olympic rise up their respective competition ladders, he hopes to re-ignite this year's Pride top side, which lost nine of its senior players in the off-season.
A key part of his approach is creating specialist roles around him. That includes tapping into the knowledge of valuable Pride support people like Thomas Brunsden and Jacob Pearce.
"In regards to the first team squad, they are taking on conditioning type sessions and then we are developing them with ball sessions,'' Kirkham said. "I'm trying to keep them and develop them into conditioning coaches for football, different to conditioning coaches say for rugby.
"They are specialised.''
Other important Pride staff this season include Nicky Jones, from USQ Sports Science, and sports trainer Mark Pearson.
"Nicky is rehab so she handles all our injured players,'' Kirkham said.
"Mark also assists in various football roles.''
Such key medical people work with Kirkham and his coaching team featuring Raj Oshen, Ronna Ferreira and Rob Cook.
Oshen is settling in as Kirkham's assistant overseeing Pride's first team and under-20 players who are training as one squad of 23.
Oshen has a professional playing background with Fiji and was a semi-professional in Melbourne before joining the Lions club in Queensland.
Ferreira is Pride's new under-18 coach, looking after 16-22 players.
Cook helps out in various background roles with the U18s and U20s.
Michael Saxby is looking after sponsorship and marketing outside the football department.
Kirkham's back-up approach is modelled on years of involvement with state competitions and seeing the infrastructure operating in English Premier League clubs like Liverpool, Chelsea and Sheffield United. He's keen to continue working with young coaches as he oversees the whole program.
"We're preparing already for next year,'' Kirkham said.
"My expectations now are to build the off-field staff and manage the process this year.
"Once we get the club into a position where we are not looking at relegation, then we can prepare to build.''
Western Pride general manager Pat Boyle was delighted to have Oshen and Ferreira enlisted to play important roles in the men's program after the club's disrupted off-season.
"With everything that's occurred, stability is the key,'' Boyle said.
"Now with having Terry, Raj and Ronna - plus all assisting staff, all our strength and conditioning staff, our physio staff - it's a highly professional program that we offer now.
"Players are able to potentially perform at their peak as well as learning strategies so that they are well rounded in football.''
Boyle was happy to see Ferreira also doing some work with Capital League 1 club Western Spirit.
"It just galvanises our relationship in Football Ipswich and local clubs,'' Boyle said.
Boyle said dealing quickly with challenges was a credit to the people involved with Western Pride. "That's the proud part of being with Pride,'' he said, having been with the club since its formation in 2012.
Boyle also thanked Ipswich City Council for re-opening up the club's upstairs function room at the Flinders View venue.
Meanwhile, Kirkham was pleased to go into Saturday night's home game with a settled first team after last weekend's opening win of the season over South West Thunder. Pride's under-20 side also won.
NPL: Saturday (7pm) - Western Pride v Redlands United at Briggs Road Sporting Complex. 5pm: Under 18 match.
NPL women: Sunday (7pm) - Western Pride v The Gap at Walton Bridge Reserve.
FQPL: Saturday (6pm) - Ipswich Knights v Wynnum Wolves at Carmichael Park.
CL1: Saturday (5.15pm) - Ipswich City v Moggill at Sutton Park. 6pm: Western Spirit v Mt Gravatt at Dittmer Park.
CL3: Saturday (6.30pm) - Springfield v Ridge Hills at Stanley Day Park. Sunday (6pm): Ripley Valley v North Lakes at Kinsellas Park.
BWPL: Sunday (6pm) - Ipswich City v UQ at University of Queensland.