Just two weeks after his appointment to the position of Brisbane Roar W-League Head Coach, Garrath McPherson sat down with Football Queensland for a Coach the Coach segment discussing his experiences in coaching at different levels of the game, and his aspirations for the future of women’s football in the state.
McPherson, who most recently coached the QAS side in the NPL Women’s competition, became invested early in his career in supporting development pathways for women and girls in football.
The 38-year-old went on to spend three seasons with the Brisbane Roar W-League side as an assistant to Mel Andreatta and has since set his focus on guiding Queensland’s next generation of female players.
“When I was coaching at Eastern Suburbs in the NPL Women’s competition, Mel offered coaches an opportunity to observe the NTC Girls sessions,” McPherson said.
“I jumped at the opportunity and continued to head along as it was a great learning experience for me.
“After a little while Mel asked if I would be interested in supporting her with the side as they prepared for the NTC carnival. I can’t remember the exact time frames but we continued to work together from that moment for a number of years, moving from the youth space into the senior space with the Brisbane Roar.”
McPherson spoke of the positivity and team orientated outlook he has noticed in female footballers following his experiences coaching within the NPL, QAS and the W-League.
“My experience is that there is a theme in the women’s game at all levels that players show a genuine love of football,” he said.
“I have rarely met a player who takes their time in the sport for granted and there is a tremendous amount of gratitude. They are always incredibly positive and love being a part of a good team.
“Perhaps the key difference between youth and senior football is a shifting from a development phase to a performance phase.
“I believe a learning environment should always be focused on creating high expectations, psychological safety, targeted and differentiated instruction. In the performance phase at senior level a larger part of the learning will be on winning a football match than in the youth space.
“I’ve enjoyed finding the balance with our QAS youth sides in recent years.”
Having commenced his journey at grassroots level, McPherson highlighted the importance of facilitating places that offer inclusive environments with equal opportunity for all players.
“I hope we can create a football landscape in Queensland where there is no difference between access for male and female players,” he said.
“Right from community level through to high performance level it is important that there is equal access for players regardless of gender. Clubs at all levels play an important part in this as they are decision makers in the provision of access.
“From my perspective, I think that’s the most important way to guarantee equal opportunity.”
McPherson is adamant that the ‘Golden Generation’ is just around the corner if Queensland makes a strong commitment to strengthening the pathway for emerging talent, such as meeting the infrastructure priorities outlined in Football Queensland’s 2020-2022 Strategic Infrastructure Plan.
“We have a World Cup in 2023 and the Olympic Games in 2032 where the senior Women’s team has a realistic chance of winning medals and lifting trophies,” he said.
“It is important that our future Matildas in Queensland and more broadly across Australia have access to high performance training centres.
“Creating these will need investment from a range of key stakeholders and would be critical to ensuring Queenslanders continue to flourish on international stages.”
Words: Charlotte Monteath