Kat Smith has arrived for her first day of training as Western United’s Liberty A-League Women Head Coach and is already excited by the work that lies ahead.
Returning to the Liberty A-League, Smith said she is chomping at the bit to be back home in Melbourne and coaching once again.
“I’m really stoked to get this opportunity, to work with this group,” she said.
“Obviously, some really strong foundations have been laid, some good performances last season in the first year to get to the results and elevate to a Grand Final appearance.
“Of course we’re here trying to do one better and I’m really excited and can’t wait to get stuck in this week.”
It’s a full circle moment for Smith to return to the Western United environment after she was a part of the first ever Western United Women’s Development Squad.
Commencing in 2021, the Women’s Development Squad was the pre-cursor to Western United’s Liberty A-League team, bringing professional training standards to a select group of talented players in Victoria.
That group featured the likes of Alana Cerne, Adriana and Melissa Taranto and Natasha Dakic, all of whom went on to secure Liberty A-League contracts, with Smith now eager to reunite with familiar faces.
“I think that’s the joy we get from coaching, seeing player progress and reach their dreams and help them with their ambitions,” she said.
“Having the opportunity to work with the Club prior to moving to Sydney, coming back and being able to reconnect with those players and, again, help them on their journey here at Western United.”
Outside of the Women’s Development Squad, Smith brings a wealth of knowledge on a majority of the playing squad having come up against United with her Western Sydney Wanderers side last season and also leading Alamein FC and Geelong Galaxy in NPLW Victoria.
Smith said she will hoping to use that prior connection to elevate the team from day one.
“I think that will go a long way in advancing some of the things we’re trying to do here and take the club to the next level,” she said.
In terms of what she will bring to the side, Smith admits that there will be no need for wholesale changes given the foundations laid by Mark Torcaso over the first season.
“The group’s got a really good foundation, we’re going to obviously put a little bit of my flavour on things,” she said.
“I don’t want to change too much because, like I said, there’s a good foundation there and there’s some good principles. It’s just redefining a little bit of the language, and a little bit of the purpose and the intent for the group.”
One thing that Smith did pledge to implement is an attacking, possession-orientated style of football that is bound to excite football fans in the West.
“Our style of play is going to start with the ball. Every time likes to control possession, we’ll be like that and we’ll be really aggressive about how we play forward,” she said.
“We’ve got some really good technical players in this group and their strengths and their dominant qualities are going to come through, and their abilities one-versus-one.
“We’ll look to put them in really good positions to leverage their strengths, and of course we’ve got the work ethic and desire of every player to make sure that we can support each other around the ball.”
Smith is a real student of the game, always learning and looking to expand her knowledge of the game.
In addition to her aforementioned club experience – which also includes a six-year spell as assistant coach at Melbourne Victory – Smith has been a key contributor in Australia’s women’s national team environment across youth and senior teams.
Smith has worked as an assistant coach and performance analyst with the Young Matildas and recently had a “front row seat” at the recent FIFA Women’s World Cup as an opposition analyst for the Matildas.
All of those roles have helped Smith to continuing growing her knowledge and add diversity to her playing style as a coach.
Going forward, Smith will be hoping to use that knowledge and the quality of the Western United squad to shoot the side right up the Liberty A-League table.
Already observing a “winning mentality” and a strong “togetherness” in the group, Smith will be out to harness the team’s spirit and quality to climb higher from eighth on the table.
“They’re very connected, that togetherness is very easily demonstrated by the girls. Their desire to do well for the club and for the people of the club, that shines through,” she said.
“For me, a keen eye is going to be about creating the best learning environment for these players and to coach the individual so they can perform their role in the team.
“There’s been a good sense of togetherness in harnessing a style of play, but the ability of the players to do their role individually with confidence, that is going to turn performances into results and hopefully push us up the table pretty quickly.”
The work begins over the border against Adelaide United on Saturday afternoon, with Smith eager to hit the ground running and get her first points on the board as Western United boss.