With Seaforth preparing for their first ever game in the Sapphire Cup (the knockout competition for Football NSW Women’s teams), we spoke to Women’s Premier League head coach Chris Wood about their success in 2022 and their aims for this year.
Wood was initially involved with Seaforth as an U18 coach. After moving permanently to Australia in 2016, he was asked to play for their Men’s Premier League team, before taking the head coaching role for their Women’s Premier League squad in 2019. Given that Seaforth had not to that point had a large history of WPL success, Wood started small with his aims.
“The first task was just to try and be competitive, and then from there see if we can actually win something.”
Seaforth would go on to achieve great things in 2022, winning the Premiership, Grand Final and Challenge Cup, as well as lifting the Champion of Champions trophy. Wood is realistic about replicating such a historic campaign this year.
“They’re great memories that we’re always going to have. All we’re trying to chase this year is creating those same memories again, winning last minute games and stuff like that, they’re memories that you want to chase and you want to recreate, so that’s all we’re looking to do.”
The Sapphire Cup allows Seaforth to face opponents from different regions and Wood is looking forward to the challenge. He is also keen to face an NPL NSW team if Seaforth progress far enough in the competition.
“We want to play teams that we’ve never faced before, from different associations. There’s an element of us wanting to test ourselves against the best that’s out there, but we also want to represent the MWFA really well.
“We want to test ourselves against an NPL team, we want to test ourselves against some of the best and see where we stand.”
With Seaforth also having FNSW State Cup and MWFA Challenge Cup commitments, in addition to MWFA WPL and a potential Sapphire Cup run, Wood is aware of the challenges posed by entering multiple competitions. He is aware that he needs his entire squad to be unified if Seaforth are to be successful.
“The hardest part is keeping players motivated to play Wednesday-Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday, although a lot of them would prefer night games and they’d definitely prefer a game over training. I guess the hardest part is that the players that play in our Reserve Grade or miss out on that midweek game, we kind of get separated as a squad. It’s important that when we do have those training sessions together, we make the most of those moments.”
Wood is also quick to pay tribute to his players for the work they’ve put in to make the club successful.
“I think the players deserve it more than anything, just the effort that they put in throughout the whole year. We’ve got a 35 player squad. It’s not just the 16 (players) that have played most games, it’s the other players pushing for those spots that make the rest of the team competitive.
“There’s definitely players within our team that I think could play 1st Grade NPL.”
As for his personal ambitions, Wood isn’t afraid to aim high, although he knows there is plenty still to be done before he can tick off those career goals.
“I’d love to say in 20 years that I’m a professional coach, that’s the big dream for me, but I’ve got a lot of work to do not just on the field, but off the field as well, I’ve still got lots to learn. It’s not just necessarily taking a head coach role, can I work under people and learn from them?”