Belconnen United rewarded for youth development
Belconnen United sealed their eighth consecutive Capital Football Women’s Premier League premiership following a 4-0 win over Woden Weston FC.
Bronte Pyke scored a hat-trick, and Jasmine Maguire got on the scoresheet too, bringing both players’ season tally to eight goals.
Belconnen United Head Coach, Antoni Jagarinec, told The Women’s Game he was most proud of the fact that his squad comprises of juniors staying in the club’s system.
“The majority of our players are bred internally,” said Jagarinec. “We have a really good system, we’re very big on our youth development.
“Out of our squad of 20-odd players, we have 15 juniors who have come through the club, which is just massive for us.”
Belconnen United’s youth development system deserves far more recognition than it receives.
According to Jagarinec, the club were at rock bottom 10 years ago and needed a winning formula. Rather than a spot-fix, Jagarinec and his staff overhauled the entire club’s recruitment.
“It was definitely hard to implement and it took time,” said Jagarinec. “In 2010, when I first took over First Grade, we were getting hammered week in, week out — 4-nil, 5-nil. If you looked outside back then, there wasn’t a lot of money being spent in the women’s programmes.
“So we had to look inside ourselves — inside our programme — to breed our own players. It didn’t happen overnight; we got some brilliant youth coaches who saw my vision for the club and wanted to buy in.
“I was on the football field five to seven nights a week. I went to every match and knew every player’s name. Three or four years later, we saw the benefits of that.
“Once people got on board with the system, it looked after itself: Please have to buy into the system, and choose to do so, and they themselves want that to continue when new players arrive.”
Belconnen United President, Tony Barr, told The Women’s Game he was proud of the club’s achievement, but asserted it was more than just reward.
“We’ve got a great program and people want to come to it all the time,” told Barr. “A lot of it is down to Antoni [Jagarinec] and all the support people around him who have kept driving the Belconnen United ethos.
“These Premierships haven’t come through luck, though. We’re the only club whose men and women play and train at the same facilities — and it isn’t cheap.
“But we believe both programs deserve equal treatment, and it’s the best way to develop players.”
Perhaps the truest litmus test in recent years will be on September 22, when Belconnen United play the winner of the NSW NPL Women’s — Sydney University.
The club, coached by Canberra United Women’s assistant coach, Alex Epakis, won both First Grade and Reserve’s premierships.
Barr said he was excited for the challenge, and hoped it would lead to more football on a national level.
“This fixture has been introduced for the first time, and we can’t wait for the challenge,” said Barr. “Hopefully in years to come, there’ll be an FFA Cup for women’s football too.”
And wouldn’t that be great?