New Southern coach aiming for national success

Southern United women's coach Graeme Smaill at Logan Park on Thursday. PHOTO: Gregor Richardson
Southern United women's coach Graeme Smaill at Logan Park on Thursday. PHOTO: Gregor Richardson
Graeme Smaill achieved everything he could on the club football coaching scene.

Now, he is looking to take that to the national league level.

The 58-year-old police detective has been confirmed as the new coach of the Southern United national women’s premiership team.

He takes over from Ignacio Sande, who coached the team for the past three years.

Smaill was an assistant to both Sande and his predecessor, Terry Parle, with the Southern team.

But it was with Dunedin Technical that he carved out the most compelling feature of his CV.

He began coaching a team of juniors that went on to become almost unbeatable in local women’s football.

It won the local title every year between 2013 and 2018, also winning the Kate Sheppard Cup - the national knockout tournament - in his final game with the club.

Southern has made strides in that time, too, although has yet to reach a national league final.

Smaill hoped he would be able to translate the success he had with Tech to the Southern side.

"I don’t see why not," he said.

"Obviously, we don’t have the depth some of the other regions have.

"You hope for a bit of luck when you don’t have that depth.

"You’re getting hit by injuries and players not being available. It would be tough with the double round to keep pushing for the top spot. But that’s what we’re aiming for.

"With Tech, it showed in 2018 - there’s a lot of quality players in this area. If we can keep those players on the pitch and incorporate some of that young talent coming through, they can foot it with anyone in the country."

Smaill was excited to get started with the team and added it was good to see local coaches being given opportunities at the next level.

"Having been involved in women’s football for so long in our local region, I feel pretty fortunate that they’ve gone with a local coach that’s plied his trade here all those years.

"It really shows there’s a pathway for the local coaches that are doing a lot of hard work in the region."

The league will return to a double round this year, having moved to a single-round format following Covid-19.

It will also somewhat follow the men’s league by incorporating a club approach.

However, unlike the men’s league - which is fully club-based for the entire year now - it will be a hybrid of federation and club teams.

That will potentially transition fully to a club-based model, although for now Southern will continue to represent the South federation.


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