Why Ipswich's A-League bid can be a winner
AS everyone waits anxiously to hear Football Federation Australia (FFA)'s verdict on A-League expansion, it's business as usual at Western Pride.
And that's the way Pride general manager Pat Boyle likes it.
As football watchers speculate on which team or teams the FFA adds to next year's A-League roster, Boyle is happy to keep Ipswich's bid low-key; some might say flying under the radar.
But that approach does little to diminish the quality of Ipswich's submission.
"As I informed FFA, this region is all about our work ethic,'' Boyle said, having been with the state league club since its formation in late 2012.
"We see that the licence isn't won in the media. It's won through the successful opportunity that FFA presented us.
"We're happy to remain within the parameters that FFA give us and we'll do our best to gain one of those expansion spots.
"The key is a sustainable product . . . and we've already shown that we can do that.''
The Ipswich bid is one of eight under consideration by the FFA, with two expansion opportunities being mooted.
Next month is when FFA officials are expected to announce their expansion plans.
Although considerable work has gone into Ipswich's case to secure a future A-League licence, Boyle is not one to get involved in the politics of the impending decision.
The general manager said he would not comment on rival bids, preferring to focus on Ipswich's footballing strengths.
Running his own glass and mirror business has given Boyle insights into what is required to handle everything from finances and venue management to organising teams and working with club personnel.
The former Premier League footballer and World Cup-winning masters indoor cricketer is also a team player.
He commended everyone at Western Pride, Ipswich City Council and other regional helpers for their work collating Ipswich's A-League bid submission.
"It was a fantastic effort by all involved. It was just an amazing effort,'' Boyle said.
Having officially completed Ipswich's bid when requested, Boyle was pleased with the feedback he received from FFA, including at a recent meeting in Sydney.
"It was fantastic,'' he said.
"They were very positive and certainly give us every opportunity to put our program forward.''
With Boyle having such a measured, professional and team-minded attitude, Ipswich's case is as worthy as any of the other bidders.
Since Western Pride was admitted to the National Premier Leagues competition in 2013, the club has progressed steadily, focusing on youth development and servicing the needs of a growing western corridor.
Major state league successes the past two seasons have rewarded the players, coaches, Pride committee and dedicated volunteers as they look to even higher level football.
This year's Pride senior, under-20 and under-18 teams all finished in the top three.
Pride's under 20s and under 18 sides reached the grand final, with the Ipswich-based U18 side beating competition leaders Brisbane City to secure the title.
Pride's under-13 girls team is also preparing for their grand final at the Briggs Road Sporting Complex on Sunday, highlighting the club's growth potential across both genders.
All that followed the 2017 season were Pride's top men's side won a historic grand final in the same year the club's under-18s won the premiership.
"It just goes to show it is all about the philosophy of the club,'' Boyle said.
"Although people measure success by results, everyone here at Pride measures success by the development of the whole program.''
Appointing key people like former Australian goalkeeper Belinda Kitching has helped bolster Pride's development in women's and girls football, along with major progress in the men's and boys state league competitions.
While the A-League is another step above, Boyle and his like-minded team know how valuable Ipswich is to Australian football.
The city has a rich heritage, being revitalised with the advent of Pride now developing future A-League players.
While wisely declining to reveal commercial confidences, Boyle said the Ipswich bid would have the necessary financial backing if a licence was granted.
"As we showed FFA when we were down there, we'll be providing a sustainable product,'' he said. "How we can achieve that, I'm happy to disclose at the right time.''
A recent equipment deal with international clothing company Puma will help take the club forward.
Boyle said the North Ipswich Reserve would be an Ipswich A-League club's game-day base, with plans in place for an upgrade of the city's premier stadium.
The Briggs Road Sporting Complex would remain the Ipswich team's main training base and for other club teams.
Boyle is also proud of what the Ipswich-based club has done working with the community.
That includes major school programs at Boonah, West Moreton Anglican College and the Ipswich Grammar and Ipswich Girls' Grammar schools.
Pride officials have also implemented a full-time Skill Acquisition Program (SAP), along with a new Australian College of Sport (ACS) and other development programs, which are gaining regional momentum.
"The club as a whole is doing amazing,'' Boyle said.
The Ipswich club's focus is also on building women's football and promoting junior players at every opportunity.
Newly-appointed technical director Matthew Shepherd is busy organising trials and finalising programs for next season. Shepherd has taken over from former Pride technical director Gabor Ganczer, who has been promoted to a Football Queensland state-wide role.
"He's fitted in really nicely,'' Boyle said of Shepherd.
"With Matt and his experience at both the younger Matildas and Socceroos, it just gives the children at this club extra potential as what is required to compete on those stages.''
Why region deserves a chance on national stage
WESTERN Pride general manager Pat Boyle shares the long-held vision of many proud Ipswich football people about securing a team in the national league.
"No matter what the sport is, the region deserves a national sport operating out of here,'' Boyle said.
"For some time, its been knocking on the door in a number of sports.''
He said whatever sport goes first, the region has the drive and determination to show the rest of the country what Ipswich possesses.
Football is well placed to take the lead due to its history.
Boyle said having the Encyclopedia of the Socceroos recently launched in Ipswich highlighted the city's wonderful football heritage.
"Ipswich is the most represented region in the state (in international players),'' Boyle said.
"That in itself shows that this region has assisted not only the state but the nation with players.
"In terms of children, this region is the fastest growing so there'll be a lot of kids there that will be looking to play football and want us to provide that pathway.''
He thanked the club's players of all ages and their families, for supporting Pride's vision.
"It's a huge dedication to be a part of this program, not only for the players themselves but their parents,'' he said.
"It certainly does not go unnoticed.''