Welcome to the Guardian’s new (and free) Women’s Soccer Newsletter, Moving Goposts. Here is an excerpt from this week’s edition. To receive the full version once a week, please email below.
“This was a big challenge, but it was a great learning curve for me,” Casey Stoney recalls after a few months of whirlwind as head coach of San Diego Wave, one of NWSL’s latest teams. The expansion team is currently at the top of the league, and the club won more games than ever in its debut year.
After three years of mission, Stoney decided to leave Manchester United, leave the comfort zone and travel half of the world. Even though she loves her new environment, it wasn’t without its difficulties. Visa issues meant she had to act alone, and her partner Megan returned to England with her three children. Thankfully, the situation is resolved and her family will eventually join her, but Stoney states that she will leave them as “the most difficult thing I’ve ever done.”
You might imagine starting a new team from scratch would be a daunting prospect for any manager, but Stoney typically tackled the task with a cool mind. After all, it wasn’t her first rodeo that she undertook a similar project to United in 2018. “They are coming,” she says. “We are in an incredible city. We are building something new and exciting.”
It is important for Stoney to establish a strong environment. “I did a lot of research, and I came with my eyes very wide open,” she says. “One of the things I noticed very much was that some of them were in an environment that didn’t help them play. I made something in a different club. I wanted to be a psychologically safe place without fear of making mistakes. “
Of course, there are differences in her time in England. Her American rules mean she had less control over player recruitment and won them through her drafts and trades. Instead of starting with a 16 year old young player, she works with them at the age of 22 when they came out of the education system. It gives us the challenge of her first year-we will have to go on a journey with them to get them ready. “
Nevertheless, she is keen to emphasize the quality of the youth in her rank and does not hesitate to give them an opportunity. For example, Naomi Gilma “looks like a veteran,” she plays consistently, and she recently won NWSL’s “Rookie of the Month.” This young man combined with the experience of Alex Morgan and Jody Taylor to make Stony’s work enjoyable. “They are a great group. They are very instructive. They want to learn and do well. It would be a dream for a head coach to have such a group.”
Other contrasts include athletic performance and the transitional nature of the league. I feel like I can score and make concessions at the same stage of play. This is fast; end-to-end. It’s transient. You probably don’t want to keep the ball. This is what I am trying to improve. “
The foundation of the community is important for American clubs. Waves are enthusiastically welcomed by their growing supporter base at Torero Stadium. “I’ve never come across something like that,” Stony enthusiastically says. “The crowd here is incredible. It’s over 5,000 per game. That’s our standard. At United, I didn’t understand it, and you know it’s that brand. Think about how big that badge is. That’s the clear difference I’ve seen here. The ability to join the local community and move the fan base from there. ”September, Wave is a 35,000-seater arena. Go to the Snapdragon stadium. This is an exciting outlook as the club continues to grow.
Working in the community includes opportunities to help improve education and visibility, such as the Pride Night at Trello for the first time last week. LGBTQIA + rights are close to Stony’s heart and she is passionate about the club confronting what they believe. That’s important. I have Meg and three children and I want them to grow up in a society where it doesn’t matter. “
With NWSL in just a few months, Stoney will have a busy summer in California. But as England hosts the European Championship this summer, she will secure her one eye firmly in her home. “I spent 18 years as Lioness, so it’s deeply rooted in my heart. I follow them at every step of the road. I think they have a great manager who knows how to win it. And we have a good blend of experience and youth … it’s [about] Players get out there and see it as an opportunity, not a threat. It would be a great opportunity for them to change the game forever. “
This week’s quote
“Maybe it took me a while to meet Megs and the kids were comfortable with their skin … because you were taught to obey and it’s not normal. What’s normal? And that’s what I teach my kids. Families look different. Everyone looks different. If we were all the same, it would be very boring. “– Stoney about the importance of pride month.
I have a question for our writer-or would you like to suggest a topic to cover? Please email firstname.lastname@example.org or post a BTL to contact us.