Brisbane Roar defender Clare Polkinghorne is making a seamless transition into the coaching world.
After a major reshuffle of the Roar’s management in the off-season Polkinghorne will line up for Brisbane as both a key player and Assistant Coach under new boss Jake Goodship for the 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign.
It’s Polkinghorne’s first coaching gig, but the Matildas defender says she’s more than prepared to fill the role she’s long been auditioning for.
“It’s more of a change of title rather than anything too different to what I’ve been doing in the last year or so,” Polkinghorne said.
“I’m looking forward to the start of the season.
“The assistant coach role this season is a good challenge for me.
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“Coaching isn’t something I’ve had too much experience with but it’s definitely something I’m looking to continue, learn new things and progress my skills.
“No doubt I’ll learn a lot from Jake [Goodship] and the rest of the coaches up in Brisbane.”
Goodship steps into the Head Coach role at the Roar after the departure of popular Brisbane boss Mel Andreatta.
In her last two seasons in charge, Andreatta led Brisbane to consecutive top-two finishes and the 2017/18 Premiership, and taught Polkinghorne a lot about coaching along the way.
“I worked pretty closely with Mel,” Polkinghorne said.
“That was a really good experience, she gave me a lot of responsibility in the team and I’m just looking to take that through to this season.
“Mel was a massive part of our club, she bleeds orange and has [played] a massive part in developing a lot of the young players coming through.
“It’s sad to see her leave but I know she’s moving on to bigger and better things and developing as a coach herself.
“She’s got a lot of exciting things coming up and she’s going to be a supporter of our team going forward.”
Goodship comes into the role vacated by Andreatta on a high after leading the Brisbane Roar Youth to the 2018/19 Foxtel Y-League Championship.
After inheriting Andreatta’s side – which finished second last season – he will be hoping to carry the Roar’s previously strong performances even further in his first campaign at the helm.
“Jake coming in, it’s been a really smooth transition,” Polkinghorne said.
“He’s kicked off pre-season really well and I know the girls are refreshed from a break and looking forward to working under Jake.
“He’s got some really good ideas and passion for the game, so we’re all really excited about that change.”
Brisbane get their 2019/20 Westfield W-League campaign underway in Round 2 after a bye in the first round, hosting Premiers Melbourne Victory at Dolphin Stadium on Thursday, 21 November.
After recent disappointments in Westfield W-League finals campaigns, Polkinghorne says her side are returning to action with an insatiable appetite for improvement as they set their gaze firmly on a deep finals run.
“We’re wanting to do better than we did previously, and that means finals appearances, Grand Finals,” Polkinghorne said.
“The last two seasons we’ve missed out on the Grand Final and that’s something we don’t want to happen again.”
“We’re setting high standards for ourselves and I know we’ve got the group to do that.”
If the motivation to succeed as a player-coach wasn’t enough, Polkinghorne has the added incentive of building a strong base of form to carry into the Westfield Matildas camp for vital 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers taking place early next year.
With international camps few and far between, Polkinghorne says the Westfield W-League offers the Westfield Matildas – both current and aspiring – the perfect platform to showcase their skills and make a strong case for their selection in the national side.
“We’ve got our qualifiers end of January, start of February,” Polkinghorne said.
“The W-League is where we get our game time and get all the hard work in, we don’t have many camps leading into the qualifiers.
“It’s going to be really important that everyone is in really good form for their clubs and when they come into the Matildas they’re ready to go.
“I think there are a lot of girls that have a good opportunity during the W-League to make their mark on the team.
“The previous Matildas camp, a lot of the young girls and up-and-comers came in and had their opportunity, and I’m sure they made the most of it.
“It’s going to be whoever is in form gets chosen, and the W-League is a really important platform for that.”