Ex-Matilda To Guide Pride Women
Words: Staff Writers
Image supplied by Western Pride FC
Western Pride Women have a new head coach with confirmation that former Westfield Matildas goalkeeper Belinda Kitching will guide the team in the 2017 campaign.
Kitching, whose Westfield Matildas career culminated with the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup, becomes the third coach of Pride’s Women’s team in as many seasons.
She replaces Len Manwaring, who will remain with the club to build and mentor Pride’s preparations for entry into the inaugural PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Under 17 Girls competition.
For Kitching, the role marks her return to the Ipswich region after fourteen years playing and coaching in the Tweed and Fraser Coast regions.
“I heard about the role at Ipswich and knew my next phase in coaching was at the NPL level,” Kitching said.
“The western corridor has a lot of potential due to its size and a lot of clubs in the vicinity have a wonderful, proud history.”
The appointment is viewed as a boost for Pride's Women's team - which has fallen short of finals football in their first two seasons in the second tier.
The Kitching name is synonymous with Ipswich football history with several branches of the family having a close relationship with Ipswich Knights and its forerunner clubs over many generations.
With Kitching’s grand-father George Snr was a Socceroo in the 1930s and, with relatives Col and Spenser, also representing Australia it was no surprise she dreamed of becoming a Matilda from a young age.
After learning the game at Coalstars, Kitching became a foundation player in the women’s football program at the Queensland Academy of Sport.
International honours followed for the goalkeeper culminating with appearances at the 1999 FIFA Women's World Cup.
After hanging up her gloves at the highest level, Kitching worked her way through her coaching badges while coaching Tweed Heads Kangaroos and Hervey Bay’s United Warriors.
After completing her FFA B Licence earlier this year, Kitching said she set her Warriors team high goals and they responded by making the Wide Bay League Ladies Grand Final.
“I wanted to see how much I could develop United Warriors’ players to a different level of playing and they adjusted well and played great football,” Kitching said.
“The opportunity to help develop the women's game is a passion I enjoy doing.”
Kitching added she was looking forward to helping young Ipswich players achieve their goals.
Western Pride General Manager Pat Boyle said he was excited to welcome Kitching to the club having known her since she was a teenager.
“Belinda was born and bred in Ipswich and it is great to see her coming home to pass on the wealth of experience she’s gained playing at the highest level,” Boyle said.
Boyle added Kitching’s return was part of the club’s strategy to attract the best experienced coach and players who originally came from the area.
“By attracting Belinda we are proving to our young players and coaches you can learn the game in Ipswich and the West Brisbane and make it all the way to the top,” Boyle said.
“Historically Ipswich on its own helped develop almost 20 Socceroos and Matildas, and the number of internationals and professional players only grows if you look across our entire Western Corridor catchment.
“We want to bring some of that experience and knowledge to the club to help develop the region’s next generation of professional players and coaches.”
Kitching's first task will be overseeing Pride's women's and girl's player trials starting next week.