Paul Ifill, mixing playing commitments with coaching. PHOTO/FILE

GARY CAFFELL

Paul Ifill is not about to make any outlandish predictions for his first season as head coach of Wairarapa United’s premier women’s football squad.

Instead the former Phoenix star is aiming for them to finish at least mid-table in Capital Football’s W-League competition, which in itself would be a major improvement on last year’s effort when their best results in 15 matches there were two draws, a situation which left them languishing at the bottom of the six-team points table.

“The big thing is to make progress and mid-table does seem a realistic objective,” Ifill said.

“With good recruitment and coaching there’s no reason why we shouldn’t manage that.”

On the recruitment side Wairarapa United have already had their stocks boosted by the news that former Wairarapa age group star Kelsi Rutene has transferred from Seatoun and Ifill has had inquiries from other well-credentialled players based in Wellington and Palmerston North over the possibility of them joining up too.

Two locals who made national league sides last year, Meisha Boone and Chantelle Leban, have indicated they will be available again and Ifill is excited at the opportunity to try out some of the female talent coming through his Masterton coaching academy at a higher level.

“A lot of these girls are showing real potential and while they are still young they are ready for the challenge of playing with and against older players.”

Names to watch in this respect could be Tui Dugan, Ella Innes and Isabella Fisher.

Ifill’s own playing commitments with Wairarapa United’s Central League men’s squad will very probably mean he will be unable to attend all of the W-league matches and, to that end, he is delighted to have an assistant coach of the calibre of Adam Hodgson to then take charge.

Hodgson, who moved to Wairarapa last October, has been coaching in Sydney for most of the past decade with his most recent appointment being director of coaching as Ryde Panthers FC, where he focused on grassroots and skill acquisition programmes for the club’s 400 junior and youth players.

Meanwhile, those players keen to try out for Wairarapa United’s Central League squad will have their first chance to do so at Memorial Park, Masterton on Tuesday, the first official training session for the 2018 season starting at 6.30pm.