Firebirds’ tiki-taka a labour of love

Justin FrisSouth Western Times
South West Firebirds boss Stephen Suttie loves being able to coach and develop young soccer players in the region.
Camera IconSouth West Firebirds boss Stephen Suttie loves being able to coach and develop young soccer players in the region. Credit: Justin Fris

It should come as little surprise that South West Firebirds coach Stephen Suttie loves his family, football club and coaching.

And much like his love of the Spanish-influenced “tiki-taka” tactical possession — perfected by both Barcelona FC and Spain’s World Cup 2010 side — Stephen expresses great care and detail across all three.

“Coaching keeps me very busy so it’s just about family time,” he said while finalising his preparation for Thursday night training.

“It’s work, Firebirds and family. I love spending time with my two sons and my wife — I don’t have time for much else apart from that.”

Stephen’s partnership with wife Nicole is very special as the two not only join forces off the pitch, but also on it.

Nicole’s experience and positive influence on the group has been a real asset for the Firebirds boss since his appointment.

“Nicole played for WA years ago and wanted to play for the Firebirds,” Stephen said. “She played for them during their previous incarnation when it was struggling, which was while I was coaching at junior boys level.

“Basically myself and Nicole were asked by former Phoenix president Guy Italiano to come in, do the job and get it off the ground.

“We though the time was right and we were pretty keen to help out the young girls. It’s all about trying to give the young girls an opportunity to play football at a higher level and use this as a pathway.

“We went for it since December 2017 and we are still building and trying to grow it.”

It was an incredible journey for the Firebirds last season, who reached the highest of highs in division one of the women’s State league.

Picking up 54 points from a possible 63, the squad played a possession-oriented brand of football which translated into 88 goals — with a miserly Firebirds backline conceding 18.

But it’s not results that drive Stephen’s enjoyment for coaching, but more the skills which can be translated into other elements of life.

“A lot of it comes down to people management,” he said. “Being able to communicate with your players on what their job is and what you expect of them.

“And when things don’t go right, you learn. I’ve learnt when I’ve made mistakes as all coaches do.

“It provides good life and communication skills. We make mistakes, we learn, we improve and the team can always come back better as a result.”

The Firebirds kicked off their 2019 premier league night series campaign away to Fremantle City last night.

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