It sure was one remarkable Westfield W-League season for Brisbane Roar.
After finishing 7th and missing the finals last season, the Roar bounced back in sparkling fashion, becoming the league's most consistent side on the way to a third Premiership.
The season included a first-ever win over defending champions Melbourne City, more milestones including a 100th Club appearance for Tameka Butt, and an incredible record on the road with our ladies picking up 16 of a possible 18 points away from Brisbane.
We caught up with Head Coach Mel Andreatta to review Westfield W-League season 10.
At the start of the season, the goal was to win the Premiership and Championship. We got one, are you satisfied or disappointed?
Of course we’re disappointed. We strive to be the best and we believed we could win both the Premiership and Championship. To get the Premiership is one step in the right direction and we gave ourselves every opportunity to go one step further in the semi-final, but it wasn’t to be and it leaves us hungry for more next season.
Going from 7th to first in one season is remarkable, what was the key in preparation during the off-season?
A bit of everything. Time is crucial and that leads to more experience. Getting to know the group better and how we work was an advantage. I have said it all season, but the leadership group was outstanding in driving everything we were trying to do and that created a happy and competitive environment that will continue next season.
What were some of the highlights of Westfield W-League season 10 for you?
First one was probably seeing some of our young players take the field against Sydney in Round 1, and opening the season with a win. It was also lovely to share Tameka Butt’s 100th with her and the Club, watching the leadership group take charge, and of course, the Premiership – that was an experience I will never forget.
Is there one performance you can pick out as our best of the season?
I think against Canberra in the last round because there was a lot of pressure on us. We knew that Sydney was playing 30 minutes before us and Canberra are a side who can throw anything at you. We played a good, all-round game and I just knew the girls were going to come through. Earlier in the season, when we went down against Melbourne Victory and came back to win, that was a bit of a turning point for us and the group maybe started to realise just how good they were. That’s just two of the many highlights.
Is losing the semi-final the biggest disappointment of the campaign?
I wouldn’t say the semi-final is the biggest disappointment, it just wasn’t a nice way to finish. I’ve told the group that I always get the same empty feeling at the end of a nice holiday or time with my friends. It was disappointing to finish that way, and not being able to see the girls through in accomplishing all their goals is too, but it’s driving me to review our season and make sure we support them again next year.
What can we expect from the Roar in Season 11?
More of the same – an attacking style of football that entertains, a group of players who will never give up and are committed to being better as well as hopefully another shot at the Premiership and Championship.
How special is it to have the only dedicated Westfield W-League active support group, The Roar Corps?
It’s special. I love this city and I think it’s important to have people around you supporting you. To have people come out each week supporting you is rewarding and it makes the experience more enjoyable.
What's the plan for the players during the off-season?
Recover first – it’s been a very taxing time on the group and they have given their all. They will have time to recover before we get together again and start the same process we did last season again. During the winter, we’ll train and gear up for Season 11.
It must be great to see six players selected in the Westfield Matildas squad for the Algarve Cup?
It’s wonderful because all the girls are local talents. Local Queensland clubs have all played a part in their development and it’s been nice to help them continue that in the last two seasons, but it really comes down to their own motivation and hard work.
Is there one player who you could say was our most improved player?
I will have to name a few. Firstly, Hayley Raso – she came back home, really added an attacking flair to her game and the ability to control the ball and look to attack in different ways in the front third other than using her speed. Her composure and competitiveness were brilliant and I can’t wait to see what she does in the NWSL. An international who contributed immensely to this squad both on and off the field is Celeste Boureille. She’s just a top person and to control the midfield is critical to the way we want to play. Another player who has gone to another level in both her game and leadership is captain Clare Polkinghorne. There was improvement throughout the whole squad this season though.