The Western Sydney Wanderers women’s program is taking shape from the top to the bottom with the announcement of Catherine Cannuli as head coach, and the commencement of their Future Wander Women program.
Cannuli, who has been an assistant for the past four years, on Thursday became the first woman to be appointed head coach for the Wanderers W-League team after five previous male coaches.
A former W-League legend, and Matildas representative, Cannuli was named Female Coach of the Year at the 2020 Female Football Awards for her work at Wanderland and as Technical Director of Southern Districts Soccer Football Association.
Cannuli, who has been at the Wanderers since day one in 2012, admits it is the realisation of a personal ambition to coach the club she played 22 W-League games for.
“It’s an exciting opportunity, I’ve been involved with the club since the very beginning, first as a player and now as head coach,” said Cannuli.
“It’s a great opportunity and one that I have always wanted to do. I have been around a lot of good coaches and had some great mentors who have guided me along the way.
“Having Southern Districts Soccer Football Association and the Wanderers supporting me over my coaching journey over the last few years has been a blessing. They have been so supportive of me growing as a coach and providing me with the resources and tools to become the coach I am today.
“I’ve got to hit the ground running now with recruitment and planning. There is a lot that needs to be done and I’ve been around for a long enough time now so I know what needs to be done.”
While Cannuli takes the reigns at the top, the Wanderers innovative Future Wander Women program is also taking shape. Over 200 girls tried out for the program with the 35 success triallists now set to begin a journey that may end up in the W-League squad.
Wanderers Technical Director Ian Crook admitted he was surprised that so many girls tried out for the program, and lamented the fact that a number of talented footballers had to be cut before making the final grade.
“Our idea was to put a program in place that improved everyone’s skill level,” he said. “There were great numbers that showed up here.
“It was numbers that we weren’t expecting, it was really good and really pleasing. It made it difficult for everybody involved to get that down to just the 35 that the there currently is in the program.
“There was certainly another 30 to 40 more who could of easily come into it.
“There were great numbers that showed up and the standard was really good.”
The program is funded by the Wanderers Foundation, which used monies donated by sponsors and partners of the club.
“This is all thanks to ICC, ABC Sydney radio, Intermain and Western Sydney University who kindly donated through the Wanderers Foundation to allow us to put on what we believe is a really good program for 20 weeks which allows the girls to learn, enjoy and benefit,” said Crook.
“The potential for these girls is to go to the next level, a number are already playing NPLW, the next level for them is the W-League program.
“We are hoping there are a few of these girls that can show enough maybe in the next year or two years to tug the heart strings of our coaches to prove they are worth an opportunity.”