The 2021 Football NSW season was a landmark one for the South East Phoenix in more ways than one and the club is already making plans to make even greater strides in the coming campaigns.
After rebranding to their Phoenix name in December, their two senior, three junior and four Skill Acquisition Program sides, and were kicking numerous goals on their National Premier League Two field this season, until the year was cut short by the COVID-19 lockdown.
"Given it was a shortened season due to COVID, my view was that it was positive across the board," said Phoenix technical director Norm Boardman
"Although we only played half a season, we were able to continue training and managed to play some friendly matches, up until the lockdown two weeks ago.
"It's a real credit to the girls who did home training if they couldn't attend and to the others who could attend putting in the hard work as if they were preparing for a match - I definitely saw an improvement across the club."
Despite this, the Ison Park-based club recorded huge participation numbers to all South Coast females, while also providing them with a legit pathway to follow their footballing goals.
"We had record numbers of players in the senior ranks, had almost a full complement of players in the youth teams and I am told, we achieved results we had not achieved in previous years," Boardman, whose club plays two out of every three matches at their home ground Ison Park to reduce their travel to Sydney, said.
"Our coaches provided safe enjoyable and challenging training sessions which were also well structured and the feedback from parents was very positive."
It's this impact that makes the Phoenix such an integral part of the South Coast sports community.
"Being the only women's football club at an elite level in the southern region, we provide excellent opportunities for girls and women to represent not only themselves but their local communities and associations," Boardman said.
"It doesn't matter if you're from Crookwell, Goulburn, Shoalhaven, Eurobodalla Far South Coast or the Highlands.
"It's so exciting to have players and parents from all areas of the branch who commit to giving themselves and their children the chance to become the best possible footballer they can be."
While this season's door closes, the club is already making preparations for its 2022 Football NSW campaign.
As such, Boardman encourages all females in the region to join the club, which can be done via here.
"It is an extremely exciting time for women's football and we are looking forward to working to attract, develop and retain players, coaches and all involved in the sport," he said.
"We have a group of coaches who all hold advanced coaching accreditations and more importantly, work within a structured program developed by myself based on my 40 plus years of youth football development across both genders.
"The club focuses on a "player first" attitude, with coaching staff using a football development and growth mindset.
"An example of our "players first" initiative is that the girls have been given diaries and are tasked with returning regular self-reflections to me and I provide personal feedback to them on what they feel are things they are doing well and things that they might need help with.
"Also, as part of initiatives from the Football NSW women's standing committee and the Football NSW technical and community teams, we are in the process of setting up female coach development networks and mentorship program - with the purpose to help clubs assist their current female coaches by providing access to resources, session plans, webinars, workshops and other opportunities and to open up a support network and help with strategies to recruit new candidates."
This is all part of Boardman's plan to help grow the club for years to come.
"It is my intention to develop women's football to even greater heights in Southern NSW by increasing awareness of female football development pathways, establishing partnerships with clubs and associations and harnessing the power we have to provide opportunities for female players and coaches to compete at all levels and enjoy the challenges of playing our great game," he said.
"I know for a fact that there are hidden gems out there just waiting to be identified and afforded an opportunity to fulfil their potential.
"The creation of a scouting and development system is important which could lead to unearthing talent such as former Southern NSW female players who played at high levels such as Bega's Renee Rollason, Milton-Ulladulla's Cian and Jenna Maciejewski, Crookwell's Renee Cartwright and Eurobodalla's Hayley Abbott".
Trials for the 2022 season will kick-off at South Nowra's Ison Park once the COVID-19 lockdown ends - with updates provided via the club's Facebook page.