Aleksandra Sinclair, Natasha Dakic and Caitlin Pickett are three of the stars of the Western United Women’s Development Squad that is currently hard at work preparing for a big year at the Club.
The program is in its seventh week since the turn of the year, and head coach Mark Torcaso is leading the group into an exciting future as Western United prepares for an A-League Women licence.
Sinclair and Dakic are two of a strong contingent of Calder United players in the squad, and both are loving the extra sessions on top of pre-season preparations for the NPLW campaign.
“I’m really enjoying it. The girls; obviously I know a lot of them from Calder, but mingling with the girls from the outside – it’s a really friendly environment. It’s in the name, you know, Development Squad, so it’s all about development,” Sinclair said.
“At clubs, you don’t really focus on the little, simple things when you get to a higher level. When we come here there’s a lot of focus on the little things that sometimes we forget about. Those little things make a huge difference.”
Pickett has joined the squad from South Melbourne, and as she insists there are no jokes at her expense after Calder’s Nike F.C. Cup Final triumph over South last year, the attacker is loving every minute of the fresh challenge.
“Getting to know some of the Calder girls that I didn’t know has bene really fun, and they’ve got such a great culture, so they welcomed me with open arms,” she said.
“It’s really good to work on your individual skills here to then bring back to your club. It’s really helpful for everyone. I really appreciate it especially because I just need that extra session to focus on the little knicks and knacks of the game.”
Western United Women’s Development Squad making history at the Club
With that jump into Australia’s professional female football competition around the corner, the women in the squad have been able to don the Western United badge exclusively for the first time.
Having enjoyed the partnership between United and Calder in the past, Sinclair and Dakic have noted an increase in motivation as that opportunity comes closer.
“Now that it’s getting serious, it’s a bit of a wake-up call to keep going and push yourself harder because there’s so much opportunity ahead of you. It’s motivation – some of these young girls have never had an opportunity like this before, and some of us older girls – we get to do something like this again,” Sinclair said.
“It makes you want to push even harder because you know there’s something to work to. Most of us are part of Calder so we all work together and push each other to get the best out of each other, here and at training as well because we all know what the majority of people’s end goal is, which is to play in the A-League Women team,” Dakic said.
The group will have the opportunity to play together as Western United for the first time when they fly to Tasmania for the Maccas Festival of Football in April.
The Calder United squad made the trip last year, but coming from another club means Pickett has all of the anticipation for the adventure this year.
“I’m just so excited, I think that’s the only emotion that could describe it. To be given this opportunity is amazing and I’m so grateful,” she said.
“Us girls, we don’t travel interstate for NPL so it’ll be an amazing experience, the excitement of going to the airport, getting packed and ready, all the little things.”
Dakic will be making her second trip to Tasmania, and still remembers and appreciates the inclusion of the entire club from the 2021 festival.
“It’s good because we get involved. Last year we went on team walks with the men’s team in the morning, so you felt really included as one whole club that has come together,” she said.
Sinclair said the future could only be more exciting based on the work that has already gone into welcoming the women into the Club.
The NPLW season is coming right around the corner, and the Development Squad will remain in training for the coming weeks and months, by which point it is hoped pre-season for the A-League Women campaign will be well underway.