‘Pure joy’ coaching kids gives captain boost for new season
AFTER 25 years playing football, it can be tempting to ease off and enjoy the social aspects of the game.
However, that's far from the case for Ripley Valley FC club captain Alex Weatherby.
Apart from being excited about Ripley's rise to the Capital League 1 competition, Weatherby is thriving on contributing to the club's strong family values.
The Ipswich District police senior constable is coaching his son Oliver's under-7 team while teammate Adam O'Sullivan encourages his daughter Indie in the under-9 competition.
"The kids are loving it,'' Weatherby said thrilled to see the footballers of the future having fun at the rapidly growing Ipswich club.
"You go away from the competitiveness and you go back to the pure joy of it when you have the little seven-year-olds running around.
"I'm absolutely loving it.''
He said coaching kids of a Thursday afternoon at the South Ripley fields was one of his favourite days of the week.
With his wife Sophie playing for power club Olympic in this year's Women's National Premier Leagues competition, the Weatherby family are as motivated as ever.
"I just love the game,'' Weatherby, 32, said preparing for Ripley Valley's season-opening encounter with New Farm Park away on Saturday afternoon.
"I love the competitiveness around it and it's the group that you are playing with as well.
"I'm doing a lot around the club as well, which makes it easier.''
Sophie was part of the Ipswich City Bulls team that won last year's Women's Brisbane Premier League premiership.
The classy midfielder was previously a captain at Western Pride.
The couple married in 2017 after meeting when police officer Alex moved to Gladstone for work.
After returning to Ipswich, Sophie signed with Western Pride and Alex joined Ripley Valley in its inaugural Capital League 3 season in 2019.
The Coalstars junior and former Ipswich Knights attacker has led the club's top team through promotion to Capital League 2 and into CL1 this year.
"We've come a long way from where we started,'' Weatherby said.
"The team is just getting better and better each year and the culture is developing along with it, which is nice to see as well.''
Weatherby said Ripley's recent 2-0 FFA Cup victory over Samford highlighted the quality in the team.
"We've got a very competitive top side and everyone is fighting for spots, which is what you want to see around the group,'' the captain said.
"It's always nice to get one up in that (FFA) comp but it was nice get one up over a team a few divisions higher than us as well.
"I think we go into every match knowing that we've got the team to be competitive but it's always nice to get the results to go along with that.''
The Ipswich City Bulls were to play Brisbane Athletic on Sunday before that club withdrew its CL1 team.
The Bulls will use the bye to boost their preparations after a recent FFA Cup loss to Buderim and last weekend's 6-0 trial defeat by the Ipswich Knights.
Ripley Valley FC coach Nick Paterson said having a bye this season could help or hinder the 11 remaining CL1 teams.
"It depends on how you are going,'' he said.
"If you're on a bit of a run, the last thing you want is a bye.
"But if you have got a few injuries, it can come at the right time.
"We'll just take it in our stride like everything else.''
As for Saturday's 5pm game against New Farm in the restructured Football Brisbane competition, Paterson was ever cautious while backing his team.
"I actually went down there last Saturday and had a watch,'' he said. "It just confirmed to me that there's going to be no easy games in this competition.
"But it's a game I expect to go and get some points from.''
Ripley Valley will make their CL1 debut with key recruit Adam O'Sullivan in doubt.
He injured his foot in a trial match after helping Ripley Valley upstaged Samford 2-0 in their SEQ third round FFA Cup match.
"He knows his body quite well . . . so it's really up to him,'' Paterson said reluctant to risk O'Sullivan unless he passes a fitness test.
"We have got a lot of depth this year again.''
The Ripley Valley Reserves open their new season in the 3pm match at New Farm's home base.
As excitement builds about Ripley's first season in CL1, Paterson said his players were also eagerly awaiting the round 3 local derby against the Bulls on March 19 at Sutton Park.