Jitka Klimkova (L) with Capital Football CEO Heather Reid | TWG
This season Czech Jitka Klimkova becomes the first foreign coach to take the reins at a Westfield W-League club and it all started with a chance meeting at the FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany.
In late June, Capital Football CEO Heather Reid followed the Westfield Matildas, including four Canberra United players, to the World Cup. While she was over there, a chance meeting between the two sparked events that saw them both in Canberra three months later.
"We started talking about the women’s game during the World Cup," remember Klimkova. "About the Australian league, about the Czech league."
Not long after the conversation wrapped up, the former Czech international was on her way to the Australian capital.
It's not surprising she was snapped up quickly by Reid as Klimkova has extensive experience and top notch coaching education. Her coaching education started even while she was still playing for the Czech National Team. During that time she obtained her UEFA B Licence and eventually obtained the A Licence and last year completed her UEFA Pro-Licence. She has also coached in the US system.
For Klimkova the timing was perfect as she had recently concluded a 16 year relationship with her previous club and was looking for the next challenge in her coaching career.
"For me it was a quick decision," she said. "That was my dream to coach some team which is in the really high level and league. So I am here and I am happy."
While she has only been in Australia for just over a fortnight, the Czech has definitely made her presence felt and impressed many. This week the Canberra United squad was close to finalised (with one spot left for an US import) after two weeks of trialing with close to 40 hopefuls attending.
The bulk of the squad are names familiar to W-League followers like Williams, Shipard, Perry and Brush, with a couple of new faces in the mix. The task now for Klimkova is to mold them into a cohesive unit and possibly title contenders.
"Now I can just really focus on our style of playing which is great."
"I really enjoy to develop the players. I really want to get them better. The players are excited, they want to improve and they really work hard and that's my reward."
So far things are going well and she has been impressed with the players. However, she admits they still have plenty to work on ahead of their season opener against Adelaide United.
As to Canberra itself, she has nothing but praise for the organisation itself.
"At the most I am enjoying being part of the Canberra United," she said. "Not just on the field. I think the staff working for Canberra management are just so amazing people."
As for what she brings to the Canberra United set up, Klimkova is emphatic.
"Mainly passion. I think we need to be more passionate on the field."
"On the line I always have to stand, I can't sit!" she said laughingly. "I started like a quiet coach."
"I am becoming a little bit more louder but now I think I should calm down."
Either way, Jitka Klimkova is set to be a welcome addition to the Westfield W-League.