As one of the few female head coaches in the senior NPL NSW Women’s competition, Sydney University’s Emily Husband is embracing the opportunity to be a positive role model for female footballers and aspiring coaches as the football community rallies behind female inclusion in the sport.
“I think you always hope that in a way you’ll inspire somebody else to take the jump into either a first-team position or even into coaching in the first place because it’s a great place to be,” Husband explained.
“Growing up I never had a female coach…I think the closest I ever got was a female PE teacher and I think it is really important to have those role models.
“In Australia, they’re taking steps to support female coaches and to try and get more female coaches into the game which is positive but I think there still needs to be more female coaches within the game, especially within the NPL New South Wales because there’s plenty of good female coaches within the NPL clubs, and they’re just potentially not quite ready for first grade or they’re not quite being given those opportunities yet, but I’m sure in years to come we will see that change and as more female coaches coming into the NPL.”
With an impressive resume, having worked for influential football clubs like EPL giants Chelsea, Husband has enjoyed the challenge of coaching in New South Wales’ top women’s league.
“I think the NPL, it’s different every year. Obviously, the last few years Sydney University have sort of been up there and competitive and winning or there abouts, so I think losing a lot of players and having a big change of squad members, it’s been a different challenge for us.
“The competition so far this year I think is probably one of the best in terms of, it being about whoever turns up on the day. I don’t think anyone was particularly running away with it whereas in previous seasons, I think there have been two or three teams that have been maybe a little bit further ahead than the rest of the group.
“I think it’s a little bit more of an equal league this year.
“I’ve got an unbelievable bunch of girls to work with.
“The whole squad, all 40 of them including the reserve grade, they’re a really, really good bunch.
“Every training session with them is always different and it’s always laughs and smiles and I think the journey has been progressing really, really well up until obviously the point of, of COVID.
“We had quite a few makeup games after the back of myself and a lot of the girls coming out the W-League.
“I think as a coach, it’s always hard to prepare for a season, when you’re not getting direct contact with the girls but, considering everything, I’m really, really happy with the way that the girls were playing so it’s been it’s been really, really positive so far.”
With stay-at-home restrictions putting a stop to the season, Husband has been staying in touch with her squad to keep track of their training, but more importantly, help support their mental health.
“I think the most important thing during these times is the girls’ mental health.
“As much as I’d like to ensure that all the girls are staying as fit as they possibly can and that they’re doing everything that they can, I think their mental health is the most important thing.
“Most of our zoom chats have been more about getting the group together having a laugh, playing some games, and just creating bonds through the social side of the game.
“The girls have all been given programs to complete, which replicates the same routine as what training would be and we just have a document that helps keep tabs on that.
“Like I said, I’ve got a really fantastic group and they’ve responded so well to it and I individually check in on the girls quite a lot as well.
“I think it’s good to just check in on some of them, not with their families and maybe potentially not having been in a lockdown before, because I’ve come from another state where they’ve not been through that.
“I think once we return, whatever point that will be, I think that cohesion that the girls have got within the group, alongside sort of the physical side that football that we’ve been focusing on, will give us a good foundation for when we come back.”
Looking forward to the return of football, Husband hopes her side can build on the great foundation they have laid in the first half of the season.
“The biggest focus on me is how we play – results will come if you consistently performing well.
“Our aim was always to ensure that we did better than in the first round, so whether that’s, converting more vertical goalscoring opportunities, or whether that’s improving on the result that we had previously, that was always going to be our main focus.
“I think if we think about that I think it will sort of get us closer to that sort of top three or four positions and then you just have to wait to hear how everybody else goes.”
-By Madeline Riley