Western Pride NPLW coach Belinda Kitching believes one of the real strengths of her star striker Sophie Weatherby is that she wants to improve herself.
It is a priceless characteristic for participants in any sport to have and Kitching says it is one of the main attributes that made her decision to name Weatherby captain for the 2018 Queensland season so easy.
“That is Sophie’s strength, she is still willing to learn,” Kitching said of Weatherby, now 27 and into her second season with the Pride.
Mother of daughter Indie, 6, and son Oliver, 3, Weatherby is one of those special talents who can manage the mix of being a leader of a football club, part-time personal trainer at the PCYC in Ipswich with domestic duties with her husband, policeman Alex.
It was a combination of wanting to play in a standard higher than what was on offer in Gladstone, on top of hubby requesting a return to his home town, that led to Weatherby signing with Western Pride for the 2017 season.
Through her passion and talent, Weatherby recently became the highest goalscorer in the club’s brief NPL Women’s Queensland history (that began in the inaugural 2013 NPLW series) when she snared a treble in a 7-1 win against South West Queensland.
After four goals in her first year in the coal city – she claims she scored six but somehow records were messed up, she says – Weatherby has scored 14 goals for the club.
This puts her in front of current Westfield W-League player Kara Mowbray, now with Newcastle Jets, who had 11 in the net last year.
That is a club record that Weatherby, and teammate Katie Muscat, are poised to beat with half a season left to play. Muscat also landed a triple against SWQ but took the season’s lead on 12 with another hat-trick last round against Mudgeeraba.
Weatherby joked that coach Kitching played a role in that by positioning her in the midfield to fill a gap in the key role.
So it is now on to the rest of the campaign when the Pride seek to push up the ladder with their chief goalscorers hot on the trail of a club golden boot award.
Kitching said Weatherby is all about the team ethic, that if individual honours go her way that will be a bonus.
“It was pretty tough for the Pride last year but Sophie stuck through it all and saw the vision of what the club wanted to achieve,” Kitching said.
“She has settled in nicely this year and has grown in confidence and has shown leadership qualities which helped my decision to make her captain.”
As is the case for most footballers, the dream for Weatherby is to one day make it into the Matildas squad, of course after making a name in the Westfield W-League.
But the realist in the striker tells her that dream is a long shot even if her Pride coach insists age should not be a factor in national selection.
“I’d love to (play for Australia) but I think it’s too late now because of my age,” Weatherby said.
A self-confessed tomboy as a kid growing up in Gladstone with three older brothers, Weatherby was always searching for a kick and quite often had to be shooed off the field by her mother.
“I was always trying to run on to the field while they were playing,” Weatherby said of her early experiences in football.
Words: Terry Wilson