Newly appointment Gungahlin United coach Pat Mills has had a troubled start to the 2022 season. The highly experienced head honcho of the Gunners Women’s program has had to deal with an injury-riddled side, as well as losing some players to an opportunity to play Futsal overseas.
The result, a tough beginning that was exacerbated by their loss to the Canberra United Academy. It didn’t end up going Gungahlin’s way in Round 3, as the Academy won 4-0 and were able to contain Gungahlin’s efforts throughout the match.
It was a reunion for Mills as he faced the side that he coached at for eight years. Mills, who previously coached the U13 and U14 teams at Canberra United, leaving earlier this year after accepting the head coach role at Gungahlin. Mills said it was exciting to play against his old team.
“It’s always exciting coming back and playing against United, you know more about their opposition that your own team,” he said. “We have the makings of a very good team at Gungahlin, although we are lacking in depth at the moment, we don’t have a full squad and have a lot of injuries and unavailability.”
It is a big change moving form under 13/14s to first grade women’s and Mills is starting to see the struggles that come with coaching a much older squad.
“I am probably struggling with them at the moment to be honest, they don’t know me,” he admitted. “While I coached them in the past when they were 14-year-olds, they’re obviously not 14 now and got completely different characters to who they were back then.
“I do think we are a strong team still, 4-0 is not deserving of the effort and I think we will be a strong team once we have numbers.”
Gungahlin United signed outstanding midfielder Piper Lockley from Wagga City Wanderers at the start of the season to strengthen their midfield core and Mills believes that she is a brilliant player and has a winning character.
Lockley has transitioned from Wagga to Gungahlin quite well, with it being a good change from her old team, backing her new coach believing in his coaching ability and the fact that he can lead them to a successful campaign in the 2022 season.
“It’s been pretty smooth, it’s been different but a good type of different, a good change in variety and getting used to new people,” said Lockley after the match.
“Pat’s been great, he’s so organised and he gels really well with the girls, he always willing to listen and contribute to people’s discussions. He’s really great to work with.”
With Lockley testing positive for COVID just before the Easter break, she has been slowly trying to recover and get herself back to being match fit. However, with her side being full of injuries, Lockley, who was only meant to play twenty minutes of the match, managed to play an outstanding eight minutes before needing to be subbed off.
“It was pretty tough the game today, my lungs are a bit rough at the moment,” she said. “But I am excited for the game against Woden (in midweek), I think we have a good shot at putting some points on the board. I think if we get some players there, play some football, I think we will be right”.
Mills still has high hopes for the season and is keen for most of his key players to return from their international duties and injuries.
“We will find out who survives from this game and who is available from coming back,” he commented. “I think we might have one more back. We have our reserve goal keeper playing as our first choice broke her thumb. We have two overseas playing futsal for Australia and two coming back from injury.”
All eyes are on Mills and Gungahlin as they look to get their 2022 points scoring underway this Wednesday against Woden and record their first win of the season.
Words: Matt Williams