Skye women flying high
Skye United's women's side is looking forward to playing in Zagame's Women's State League 1 South-East
By Craig MacKenzie
Skye United senior women’s team is gearing up for its first ever venture into the dizzy heights of Zagame’s State League 1 competition.
Based at Skye Recreational Reserve the club’s senior women have never previously achieved Zagame’s State League 1 status and last week’s announcement that they have been included at that level of competition for the 2016 season has been warmly embraced.
“It’s a milestone for our club and I’m really hopeful that this is the springboard for expansion of our girls’ and women’s set-up,” club president Daren Jones said.
The recently restructured Zagame’s State League 1 South East is a 10-team competition featuring Berwick City, Boroondara Eagles, Brighton, Casey Comets, Caulfield United Cobras, Doncaster Rovers, Monbulk Rangers, Sandringham, Skye United and Whitehorse United.
Skye’s senior women’s team is coached by Steve Babbage and his assistant Lee Evans.
Babbage hails from Maldon in Essex and played as an attacking midfielder with Ipswich Town and Colchester United before injury ended his career.
He came to Australia in 1999 and has been involved with Skye United since 2005.
“We’ve been aiming to reach State 1 football for the past five years and now that we’ve achieved that goal it’s very important for the club that we stay there,” Babbage said.
“We believe our squad is good enough to do that and our aim is for a top-five finish.”
Skye’s women have developed a reputation as an interpassing side and Babbage has been keen to reinforce that aspect of their game as he sees it as one of the side’s main assets.
“We pass it around quite well and challenge the players on the ball to do so and this year we have developed that aspect of our game even further,” he said.
“The good thing is that we certainly are playing the best style of football that a women’s team at this club has ever played and hopefully that will stand us in good stead in State 1.”
Team bonding is also high on the Babbage checklist and that box was ticked via a recent training camp at Torquay.
In 2014 the side finished third in State League 2 South-East and last year it finished fifth.
“We had a lot of injuries last season in fact we had eight or nine players injured in the first half of the season but fortunately they got over their injuries and we won seven out of the last nine games otherwise we probably wouldn’t have won a spot in State 1,” he said.
Babbage has been keeping close tabs on the opposition and although the standard will be high he is confident that Skye’s women will be ready.
“It’s going to be a tough season that’s for sure but our girls are good enough.
“Boroondara will be very strong and they have a lot of ex-Premier League players in their squad.
“Casey and Berwick will be strong. It’s always difficult playing against local sides and they both have decent squads.
“And, of course, you have Sandringham, Brighton, Monbulk and Caulfield.
“Some of the big names in women’s football are in that league which is going to be very, very competitive but the team that stands out to me is Boroondara. On paper they have a really talented squad.”
Babbage has 12 players in his squad that he has coached at junior level, which speaks volumes for the club’s development pathway.
He also has five additions to the squad from last season but they are players who have returned to the club and who have been previously coached by Babbage.
Skye United will launch a new club website this week at www.skyesoccerclub.net.au featuring the club’s growing women and girls wing and while Babbage won’t rule out adding experienced players to his squad here are the current players entrusted with the task of taking on the rigours of competition in the club’s inaugural State 1 season:
GOALKEEPER: Jayde Moore
DEFENDERS: Matilda Blyth, Caitlin Williams, Grace Macquire, Saskia Dekker, Yasmin Cerda-Predes
MIDFIELDERS: Paige Armao, Rhiannon Hemingway, Maddy Brooks, Amber Brierley, Simone Busuttil
FORWARDS: Georgia Siric, Senna Evans, Kelly Babbage, Abbey Johnston.