South West Queensland Thunder may be having a hard time of it this NPLW Queensland season but the future for the club looks promising, according to leading goal scorer Louise Rolfe.
SWQ have won just one game in 2018 yet the signs are there that as football continues to gather momentum on the Darling Downs and the surrounding area, success will follow.
Already Rolfe has mixed playing and coaching, having looked after the SWQ Under 13 girls team at the recent Football Queensland Community Cup played in Mackay.
“Part of the reward of coaching is seeing the girls develop,” Rolfe said.
“I love to see young girls picking it up – and they’ve got some really talented players in the area.”
Rolfe’s team had a reasonable time of it in Mackay. They lost their first round games 6-0 to Brisbane and 4-0 to Mackay.
“But when we met them again in the second round we drew 0-0 with Brisbane and 1-1 with Mackay,” Rolfe said.
“We learnt a lot defensively so there was improvement there.”
Taking the Downs team to Mackay was not the first coaching stint for 27-year-old Rolfe.
When she was 18 and growing up in Armidale on the New England Tableland, Rolfe coached a district girls team for Northern Inland Football.
“It was an Under 13 competition and we played teams from Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour and elsewhere,” Rolfe said.
“Teams from country areas are always a challenge but we had a few wins.”
Rolfe, born in Armidale but these days a teacher at Killarney State School, is at the forefront of the Thunder effort, having scored 15 goals from 20 matches this season.
Considering the Thunder have a team total of only 28 goals and have had 20 losses to date, it is an impressive number.
Last year, when the Thunder had a much better season record of seven wins and 11 losses, the team scored 44 goals. Rolfe netted 22 of them, exactly 50 per cent of the scoring.
This Sunday, SWQ travel to play fourth-placed Moreton Bay United and Rolfe concedes the Thunder have a tough task ahead of them.
“We definitely have a challenge against Moreton Bay,” Rolfe said when asked what her team has to do to bring off an upset.
“I guess we have to really track their good players and try to keep them quiet.”
The striker provides an example of what playing any sport in some country areas can entail.
Killarney is a rural town with a population of less than 800 people which, to train and play with South West Queensland, entails three round trips of 90 minutes per week.
After completing her teaching degree at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, where she played with the Griffith women’s team, then Broadbeach United, Rolfe landed her job in Killarney, where she has been now for four years.
She joined SWQ at the start of the 2017 season after playing for Warwick Wolves in the Toowoomba Football League.
Her love of the game covers both playing and coaching, and the latter beckons her as a full-time role when she hangs up the boots.
“I love playing and I want to do it for as long as I can,” Rolfe said.
“But coaching? I guess I’ve played for 15 years or so, so I’ve got plenty of material to pass on.
“I’ve had a lot of different coaches and I’m still learning from Thunder coach (Scott Teakle).
“It is easier to pass on that information as a player and you can understand how some things can break down.”
During this interview, an interesting statistic surfaced when discussing SWQ’s record.
The Thunder have played 55 successive NPLW games without registering one draw.
In 2016 they drew 1-1 with Gold Coast City in Round 4, the last time they shared the points.
They finished 2016 with a 9-1-10 record, in 2017 it was 7-0-11 and this year it has been 1-0-20.
“That’s interesting,” Rolfe said. “It seems our matches go one way or the other.”
Words: Terry Wilson