Defending Grand Final winners Canberra Olympic enter the 2023 National Premier League season full of confidence and optimism after an unprecedented campaign in 2022.
Olympic finished last season taking home the Federation Cup and the Grand Final, and subsequently claiming the club’s first ever piece of silverware for the senior women’s side. Olympics’ first-grade side wasn’t the only women’s team to walk away with a trophy last season, with the under-17’s and the reserves both enjoying Grand Final victories.
Head Coach Nicole Begg said that creating a positive culture within the club was key to last year’s success.
“Having a vision from the start was always very important for us,” she said. “The vision was always the same; to create something that people wanted to be a part of.”
That positive environment was key to building a strong cohesive unit and made it easier for Olympic to retain players and to attract talented young prospects. Despite having to endure a few tough seasons with some heart-breaking results, the culmination of the team’s hard work had paid off and the club’s vision was starting to take shape.
“I don’t think you can sustainably recruit players without first creating an environment that they want to be a part of year-in year-out,” Begg said. “That was where we started, trying to build that culture around the squad and then throughout the other pathways. The girls have seen what we can do as part of a team, even if that was getting smashed six or seven nil.
“They still thought that this was an environment I want to be a part of because they are building something special and want to go further.”
While it is going to be hard to top their amazing season last year, Begg remains confident that her team can remain competitive and can produce some major upsets in 2023.
“We have to recognise where we are as a whole,” Begg said. “I’d love for us to succeed during some of the big moments throughout the year, and I do believe we are capable of doing so. I still think we have an excellent squad with a lot of talent.”
After an off-season full of plenty of rest and recuperation the team are back at it during the pre-season to make sure the team are fit and rearing to go come round one.
“We have been trying to build up our fitness base over the pre-season, and it was important that everyone had some real time off where they didn’t have to think about football,” Begg said. “Our base has yet to be where we wanted it to be to start the pre-season, but the girls have put in a lot of effort so far, and we are in a good place.”
A major emphasis over the last few off-seasons has been getting more women involved in the coaching set-up throughout the club. Last season Olympic had a total of five women represented on the coaching staff; from first-grade to reserves and all the way through into the girl’s programs.This season they have increased that number to seven and are continuing to encourage current and former players to get involved on the coaching staff which has certainly been invaluable to the club.
Canberra Olympic will begin their NPL title defence when they face off against former champions Canberra Croatia FC on Sunday 2 April at Woden Park Enclosed. You can catch every game of the NPLW season live on BarTV Sports.
WORDS: Dion Stergiopoulos