Mark Torcaso has enjoyed another fairytale season with Calder United in NPLW Victoria, but now his focus is shifting to taking the reigns of Western United’s inaugural Liberty A-League Women team.
While the boss confesses there won’t be much of a break over the next month before pre-season training commences, he said he is eager to get started and begin working with the group.
“I can’t wait to be quite honest. I feel like this year, we’ve built up to this now, we’ve been successful and the players are going to be ready to step up to the next level,” he said.
“It’s going to be a really exciting first year, putting the players on a bigger stage and hopefully letting them get recognised for national teams and things like that as well, so that’s the most important thing for me.”
With a number of Calder United stars rewarded with professional deals with Western United, Torcaso will be familiar with the majority of the squad come day one of pre-season.
Despite winning the NPLW Premiership and Championship double as well as the NIKE F.C. Cup, Torcaso had admitted earlier in the season that the 2022 season was always going to be geared more towards development of players and getting them ready for the A-League Women.
Come the final whistle of Sunday afternoon’s NPLW Grand Final, Torcaso had an ‘I told you so’ moment with two of his players.
“At the start of the year myself, Aleks Sinclair and Emma Robers about a little bit of a concern of the amount of young girls we had in the senior squad and how we would go, and I reminded both of them yesterday after we won, and I said ‘I told you we’d be able to do this’,” he said.
“For us it was more about transitioning young ones into the senior side and giving them the opportunity to play and still be successful, and we won everything again. It was amazing, absolutely amazing.”
Exposing those young players to cup finals and cut-throat games at the top of the table will only help to fast-track their development on the pitch, Torcaso believes.
“Those big games are important. Playing Heidelberg in a crunch game, big six-pointer, having Alana Cerne play in that game and build towards it, having Mel stand up, Raquel Deralas stand up in those games is only going to hold them in good stead for the A-League,” he said.
“Coming to Calder, it’s about playing in those big games to prepare you for what’s next. I had no doubt that we would play in big games this year, I just didn’t know how many. Our goal was to play as many games as possible, and we played the maximum in all competitions.
That’s only going to be excellent for their progress. That for me is a big achievement, winning and lifting trophies is great, but seeing all those young faces out there was huge for us.”
The success for Calder didn’t just come in the senior program, too. All seven of the club’s junior NPL teams made finals, while the community Under 12’s side went through the entire season undefeated and finished on top of the ladder.
With the partnership between the two clubs set to continue, Torcaso said Western United’s future prospects in the West are very exciting.
“For me that’s exciting from a Western United perspective because our pathway is working, we’ve got successful teams, we’re going to have individually great players and that’s only going to put us in a great position as Western United for many years to come,” he said.
Torcaso will take as much time as he can to refresh and spend time with his family while continuing to build the inaugural Western United A-League Women squad ahead of the opening match of the season, which is set to be a blockbuster in the West against Melbourne Victory on Sunday November 19.