21/02/2024

Bulls FC Academy made the 2023 NPL NSW Women's Grand Final. Photo Credit: Football NSW. Graphic Design: Madeleine Irwin

As Macarthur FC continues to build as a club, its women’s program continues to grow. Speaking to The Inner Sanctum, the club’s CEO spoke about the 2023 NPL NSW Women’s season, the academy, and plans for an A-League Women’s team.

Bulls FC Academy (previously Northbridge FC) made the NPL NSW Women’s First Grade Grand Final in 2023 in its first season back in the top flight after earning progression from FNSW League One Women’s. 

While the side would lose to Macarthur Rams, the club was happy with how the season went overall.

“It was good,” Macarthur FC’s CEO Sam Krslovic told The Inner Sanctum

“We had three girls making the Young Matildas, which is a career progression for them.

“We’re providing a platform to developing players for the national team and a couple of them have gone on and got A-League contracts.”

“We’re very satisfied that we’ve done a decent job.”

One thing that Krslovic credits to the successful season is the make-up of the squad. Despite being an academy team in name, there were some senior players who were a core part of the squad in a deliberate move by the club.

Some senior names that would feature throughout the season include the likes of Trudy Simmons, Aideen Keane, and Jessica Seaman.

“When we say ‘the academy’, you actually need senior players to assist the academy players,” Krslovic said.

“I think the biggest problem with the men’s game is that the academies are limited to an age group playing against senior men.

“I think if any young aspiring footballer is going to improve and get better, they need experienced players around them.

“I think you do need to have that mix of three or four senior professionals, whether it’s male or female, in and around them to guide them, to teach them, to show them.”

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Looking ahead to the future, you could see glimpses of it throughout the 2023 season as the line-up was filled with young players who had played in the A-League Women.

Jessika Nash and Charlotte Lancaster were just some of these names and were on the precipice of getting a contract, such as Avaani Prakash and Peta Trimis. Krslovic described this as part of a building process for Macarthur.

“It’s the start of eventually when we do get a women’s team to have the underpinning academy of progression through.

“So you bring players through your own academy. Start them at SAP, Under 11’s and bring them all the way through to the first team.

“I think that’s what is best practice and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

As Macarthur look to one day be an A-League Women’s team, there is a realistic target date in mind for the club. Hoping to be in the league, the club has set a target date of 2026. Although that is some time into the future, there are reasons why it is, and a lot of it relates to infrastructure.

“If I was realistic, we’re looking at 2026. I think that’d be a realistic thing at the moment,” Krslovic said.

“It all depends on the infrastructure. We’ve got this training ground out at Cawdor near Camden that we bought and we got government funding that’s been promised and in the process of getting committed and documented.”

The lack of infrastructure is also hurting its senior men’s side in the A-League Men, who currently train at Fairfield Showground.

“Until we get our facilities built, which allow professional women, it’s got to be a placeholder.”

With Campbelltown Stadium playing host to a 3-1 victory for the academy side against the Northern Tigers as part of a doubleheader with the A-League Men in 2023, Macarthur is looking at doing the same for the 2024 season.

How many games there will be, or when they take place, comes down to scheduling, which “plays a big part.”

“The A-League scheduling isn’t ideal. It’s not a Sunday-to-Sunday proposition, so we do try to do that where we can accommodate it.

“We will definitely do it this coming season for the women.”

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