Ahead of Sunday’s W-League Grand Final, incoming Westfield Matildas coach Hesterine de Reus talks to Stephanie Brantz about her plans for the future.
The curtain is set to come down on the Westfield W-League season, but that also signals the start of a new phase for women-s football in Australia.
Ahead of Sunday-s W-League Grand Final, incoming Westfield Matildas coach Hesterine de Reus gives us an insight into her plans for the future.
By Sunday, new Matildas coach Hesterine de Reus, will have been in the country for just one week, but she has hit the ground running.
Her presence at the season finale in Melbourne will mean she has watched three games live, and traversed the country, touching down in four states.
The W-League already has a tick of approval with de Reus being pleasantly surprised by the style of play in the domestic league, if not the length of the season.
“I think that the level is good, the weakness, is that the season is a bit short. Playing matches is very important if you want to compete on the international level.
“So that-s something we need to look at – but I was very happy with the talent, the individual skills – and there was more combination play than I thought I would see, so, I was (in a good way), surprised!”.
The controversial finish to the semi-final between Perth and Melbourne didn-t ruffle her feathers.
While de Reus wasn-t completely convinced by some of the refereeing decisions, her experience as a coach, and as a player (including 43 caps for the Dutch national side), had her highlighting the players performances in regular time.
“It (the refereeing) never has my focus. It is something that is out of your hands, so it is not good to focus on that. If you go back to the (Perth/Melbourne) game, the players also had the opportunity to score goals, and if you score goals it is out of the hands of the referee.
“I think it is always good to look at your own performance and see what you could have done better, rather than focusing on the referee.”
After Sunday, that focus will turn to the international side and having seen them play at the World Cup in Germany, de Reus is full of praise for the Matildas – and her predecessor.
“Tom (Sermanni) did a great job with the team, he took them to a very high level and brought football in Australia to this level, so that makes an easy start for me.
“I love the spirit, the way they (Matildas) play – that-s fantastic, because if you are so willing to win, and you have that by nature, that is a very great gift.”
A quiet stage on the international calendar is something the new boss sees as an asset – and a chance to put new plans in place.
“It-s very good that we are not having the pressure of major tournaments, but changing coaches will also bring some changes.”
“I would like to have a couple of camps and friendlies. It would be fantastic if we could go to Europe and play a tournament – a mini tournament over there, to experience the European style.”
In selecting opposition countries against which to hone her new charges, is for De Reus, all about finding what style she feels suits them best and will make them better players – with a view to an Asian Cup tournament in 2014 and a World Cup in 2015 on the horizon.
“We have to discuss the way we play – it is not only my thing, it is something that the team needs to be happy with – so that is nice to discuss with the team, and try to convince them what we need to become top of the world.”
“The USA play a more physical style, Asia has quick movement and a short passing style and in Europe they have a completely different style. So I think we need to figure out which style fits a player the most and which will benefit them most and then make the right decision.
“I think Australia play on the Asian side – the Eastern side, a lot. Hopefully we can go to the East Asia Cup in July, that would be fantastic, and then we have two big tournaments to develop our playing style.”
While it might play havoc with her plans, the increasing number of Australian players heading overseas to ply their trade in other leagues during the off-season, seems all to be just a piece of de Reus- coaching jigsaw.
“It depends on the club they go to, because the focus has to be on ‘will I become a better player?- – it is not going overseas as something on its own. You have to be very careful of where you go, because it has to benefit the players.
“I will support the girls that go overseas, because playing matches is very important. The challenge, is that I am a person that is very keen on the process.
“I think the process is very important – if the process is good then the results will be good, and the girls who go overseas will miss the start of that process. That is a nice challenge – how to fit in those girls, and share my thoughts with them – we will figure it out.”
Based on the background of their new mentor, the young players in the squad are, it seems, in good hands.
With past roles as national coach of the U15, U17 and U19 Dutch national sides as well as the U16 and U19 Jordanian teams, and most recently at PSV/FC Eindhoven (where the age range was 16-22 years), de Reus has much experience in development and feels that is something she can share.
“I-m very specialised in development, so I think I am specialised in making players ‘better players-. I think for players at all levels, that-s the kind of thing they really love. The remarks and the guidance to become better players – that is something I also can add to Australian football.”
So how will the new Matildas coach gauge her own success?
“I think the Matildas are great – they are very promising. It-s a young team and they are going for the World Cup in 2015 so that is also a great challenge, to coach on a stage like that.
“We need to qualify for the World Cup. Of course we would like to win, but that is very difficult facing all the world champions, so let me say – that in a safe way, I would like to be in the top three. Of course I would like to play the final – and win the final, but maybe, it is realistic to say that we need to be in the top three.”
There will be plenty of Matildas on the pitch in the W-League Grand Final. Come and support them at AAMI Park on Sunday as Melbourne Victory take on Sydney FC in the Grand Final of the W-League. You can watch all the action live on ABC1 from 3.30pm.