Some might see an anterior cruciate ligament injury in their very first season of football as a sign to turn away from the game. Not Mel Andreatta.
Undeterred, football has instead become a constant in the Queenslander’s life – from talented player to one of Australia’s foremost youth development coaches.
After starting out at Brisbane-based Taringa Rovers – and appearing for Northern NSW Pride in the old Women’s National Soccer League – Andreatta transitioned into coaching with The Gap FC in her late 20s as a natural extension of her teaching career.
“I think it’s always been in my character to want to teach or work with younger players,” Andreatta explains.
“I was the oldest in a pretty big, extended family and always responsible for the youngest ones and had to entertain them. It evolved naturally really.”
The former ‘Mini Matildas’ assistant – who in January 2015 was chosen as one of six female coaches for a 12-month FFA mentorship program – has since carved out a formidable reputation for producing future stars.
— Mel Andreatta (@MelAndreatta) March 2, 2016
She currently coaches Queensland’s National Training Centre (NTC) girls in the PlayStation 4 National Premier Leagues (NPL), is involved heavily in State Team programs and teaches football at Cavendish Road High School.
Occupying several positions gives Andreatta an understanding of players at multiple levels of the game.
“It gives me a good view and a good perspective of what’s out there and the talent coming through,” she says.
“At Cav Road, the next level we see us developing players for is the NPL.
“A lot of kids we get are local players, or haven’t even played before and are just kids coming because their friends are. With the girls we pretty much just take them all in and try to develop that passion for the game and encourage that football development for the NPL level.
“Likewise for the NTC. Obviously it’s a higher level of player coming in to the program but (it’s about) developing their individual qualities for national team selection and representation.
“Slightly different development focuses but using similar strategies to progress the players to the next level.
“We’ve had a bit of success with that with the likes of Cortnee Vine getting capped (by Brisbane Roar) this year. Elise Franco, Ayesha Norrie and a lot of those girls I coached when they were in U14 State Team as well.
“It’s been nice to see a real youngster develop and go on with it.”
With support from the likes of Andreatta – and the Westfield Matildas scaling new heights in the women’s game – there could be plenty more set to do just that.
“The more young girls we get playing the game, the bigger the talent pool is and the more chance we’ve got of finding the next Katrina Gorry, the next Lisa De Vanna and that’s exciting.”
Do you have a story, photos or event to share for Female Football Week? Email Football Queensland’s Women’s & Inclusive Football Development Officer Sarah Willington with details: SarahW@footballqueensland.com.au