In an exclusive interview Perth head coach Alex Epakis outlined what life was like off the pitch in hub, how he and his staff went the extra mile to lift the players, and how he managed personally when times were tough.
Epakis is incredibly respected by his players. Having spoken to nine of them across the season, each has commented without prompting that the coaching provided to them at Perth Glory is unlike anything they have experienced anywhere else and is a major factor in why they are at the club.
I asked Epakis about his coaching philosophy.
“My approach is to ensure that all players feel supported and connected to our team vision.
"I focus on trying to give everyone time and ensuring that I try and build impactful connections with each player.
“It isn’t always easy to keep everyone happy with selections but that never compromises my approach towards supporting each player and highlighting the value they are bringing to the team.
"I try and keep our vision clear, our style of football consistent and communicated simply.
"Overall, I am here to serve the team and the players to the best of my ability.”
Whilst the playing group were well looked and supported by Epakis and his staff, one cannot help but wonder who Perth’s head coach turned to during the period when things were at their toughest.
“I have some great support staff which I would often communicate with and brainstorm with to get differing ideas and points of views.
"We would always ensure that we were each okay and tried to spend some time enjoying each other’s company.
"I also have a very supportive partner, friends and family who each provides a great level of support away from the work environment.”
One facet of Perth’s team selection this season included the regular interchange of Morgan Aquino and Courtney Newbon as goalkeeper. Epakis was fortunate to have two highly talented shot stoppers, but the selection changes were not down to trying to keep both happy or an inability to choose between them.
“Both Morgan and Courtney offer a lot of value and certainly some of the selections decisions - as with any outfield player - is based on specific game plans and opposition.
"Both keepers did outstanding this season and they have a great mind-set and level of understanding.”
Along with the vast majority of his squad, Epakis is signed up for another year with Perth Glory, and the review process will shortly be under way to ensure the club do break into the top four in 2023.
“The staff and I need to review the season objectively and thoroughly. We will make sure we have a clear indication of what we did well this season, and what we can work towards improving leading into next season.
"We certainly made some significant forward progress this season in a number of areas. We want to build on that and ensure we are performing at an even higher level next season.”
Part of that review will include looking carefully at the local talent in this year’s WA NPL Women competition. There has been a lot of discussion recently among the women’s football fraternity in the state about the decreasing number of Western Australian players in the A-League Women and Matildas team.
Epakis can see signs of progress, but emphasizes that it will be a long-term process.
“I believe that all WNPL clubs in WA are doing really well in working towards establishing the best programs they can for their players and staff.
"Each year the clubs are adding things to be more professional and to help create an environment in which players feel stimulated and supported.
"Development doesn’t happen overnight and there is no magic formula but I certainly feel and see that we are moving forward.”
More Perth Glory news can be found on their website.