Women’s Football on the rise at Hartfield Park

It has been a successful season for Forrestfield United Soccer Club, both on and off the park. The senior men’s side took all the limelight, with promotion to the NPL, but it was also a stellar season for Women’s team, after they took out runners-up in South Division Two table. Head Coach Luke Yeates has overseen the huge rise of women’s football at the club and he said the future for women’s football at Hartfield Park is bright.

Yeates said he was a little worried after the new restructure of the women’s leagues, but it worked out well for the team. “At the start of the year we were advised that Football West were changing the format of the women’s amateur competition, they removed the previous Division one through to six and replaced these with a central (Premier) and South and North Division One, two and three,” he explained.

“In previous season’s we had been in Division Four but in the new set-up we were placed in South Division Two.  At first I was a little worried about this, as this change made us the lowest team entering the Division, based on previous league ladders.”

He said they worked extremely hard in the pre-season and it paid dividends, with the girls impressing. “We started pre-season fairly early in the year, getting a few new faces and fortunately keeping most of the team from last season. With the help of my assistant coach Tony Down, we decided to give the girls some targets for the season prior to commencement,” Yeates said.

“The target was set for 30 goals for the season, and with the hope of finishing within the top five. That target was reached just past half way through the season, so we then pushed it up to 50, and the girls ended up scoring 54 for the season, and they also kept seven clean sheets and finished with two of our girls on the top goalscorers list, so it was a very good year for the ladies.”

Yeates has called Hartfield Park home for a number of years, and he said there are exciting times ahead. “I have been at this club for a long time, and I’ve seen the highs and the lows over those years. This year has definitely been a positive step forward. It has been great seeing the new Grandstand and facilities being built, and now the senior men’s side have been promoted to the NPL,” he said.

“There are definite plans in the woodwork for expansion of the female teams at our club in the next few years, commencing as of next season, which is all going to require a lot of recruitment of players and coaching staff, from juniors through to seniors which will be a huge task. The positive exposure our club is currently receiving, along with the brilliant season from the women’s team, is all likely to assist with this.”

Forrestfield President Andy Osborne said all the coaches and players hard work had paid off. “It’s been a great season for many of our teams, and a great season for the club with all the “off field” building work,” he said. “Over a year ago, Luke, Stephanie and myself sat down and decided to put a plan in place to grow the number of “all girls” team at Forrestfield. The first part of the plan was to have a successful senior women’s team, and we achieved that this season.

“To keep girls at our club, it is important to have a senior team that they can look up to and aspire to play in. Next season will see the formation of an U17 girls’ team and an U9’s and U11’s team as well. It will take a few years, but we are planning to have a pathway from the young girls all the way to the senior women’s team. Luke and Stephanie are playing a major role in delivering that plan. So a big thank you to both of them.”

Yeates has played, coached and met his wife in his time at the club and he said he has enjoyed every minute. “Wow where do I start. I have practically grew up at the club. Over the years I have moved away and played for other clubs, but have always returned as Forrestfield was always my home. I met my wife here and now have both our children playing at Hartfield Park,” he said.

“I have been playing since I was six, which is a very long time ago. I started off in goals, then made my way on to the pitch. Then when I was 23 I went back in goal to help out and fell in love with it and stayed there. I still play in goals for the Division three men’s teams under coaches Elvis Bird and Barry Neylon. I started coaching the women’s team in 2015, as my wife has been in the team for many years and found themselves without a coach.”

Yeates said the successful season couldn’t have been possible without the help of a number of people. “I would like to thank President Andy Osborne for all his support of our team throughout this year, and also Phil as well for putting food on for the ladies after games and helping us out as well. Tony Downs, thank you for your support mate. It was a team effort but we worked together well. See you next year.

“John Revnak, thanks for running the line for us for most of the season and Tom Tristram and Jordan Alexander for running the line in his absence. Elvis Bird, thank you as well for all your support and helping out with supplying training equipment. Thank you to all the supporters and partners that came down to watch, rain, hail or shine. Last of all thank you to all the ladies, it has been a great year.”