With the 2021/22 season starting this weekend for Queen’s Park Women, we caught up with our newly-appointed Head Coach, Barry Rodgers, to discuss the team’s progress during pre-season and preview Sunday’s SWPL Cup opener against Rangers.
“I’m really excited to be part of Queen’s Park as the Women’s Head Coach,” said Barry Rodgers. “Everyone has been very welcoming so far. It’s been nice to meet the players, and we got a bit of work under our belts now in terms of preparation for the season after what was a quick turnaround. It’s been a slight challenge in terms of making sure that the players are fresh again, that they have regained some freshness – so making sure that they got a break, but that they are also prepared for the competitive games”.
“I think it’s a really exciting time for the club in terms of the season moving forward. The club has shown us great backing,” he said. “They’re really continuing their investment and support of the women’s side, so that’s been really positive so far, and everyone has been really helpful”.
Last week, the team faced SWPL 1 side Hamilton Academical in a pre-season friendly. “We managed to get some game minutes under our belts against Hamilton Accies last week, which was good, and our first opportunity to see our players in a game,” he said. “We have a good group of players – there’s some great experience in there, and some good young players as well, so it’s a good mix, with quality throughout”.
The SWPL 2 season starts in less than a month, with the Spiders set to face Partick Thistle on 5th September, and he says that both the players and the staff are looking forward to the challenge and are excited to see what the SWPL 2 season will bring. “I think it’s going to be a really good season. We know that the SWPL 2 is gaining more competitiveness all the time – I managed to take in a few games in the last season and extend my experience in the women’s game”.
In the meantime, Queen’s Park have been drawn in Group A of the SWPL Cup and will face Rangers (8th August), Aberdeen (15th August), Boroughmuir Thistle (22nd August) and Motherwell (29th August). “The SWPL Cup poses its opportunities and its challenges, you know, we have been drawn against three SWPL 1 teams, and then there’s ourselves and Boroughmuir Thistle from the SWPL 2, so it will be very competitive, very challenging”.
“Like I said, the competitive games have come around really quickly, and they’re going to be coming thick and fast,” he said. “We do have the majority of the squad who were here last year committed for the season, which is really positive. Obviously, last year, last season – it was a testing time for everybody, so it’s a testament to those players who came through that. I think the outlook is very positive”. He also added that he’s hoping to bring in some new faces this summer. “We have been working to add to the squad as well, we’ve been looking at some players, and we’re hoping to have some good news on that shortly”.
“The first game is against Rangers, which should be good for us, because we are looking to test ourselves, test everybody, and Rangers will pose one of the biggest tests that you could have in domestic football, so we are excited and looking forward to it”. The Spiders last faced Rangers at the Hummel Training Centre in Milngavie in a SWPL Cup match on 27th February 2020, just a few days before the season was suspended by SWF due to Coronavirus-related concerns. Rangers won 3–0, thanks to an early Megan Bell penalty and second-half goals from Brogan Hay and Daina Bourma.
“We have been working hard in training, we’ve been doing our best we can and we’ve been looking to utilise the time that we have had together. The players are really positive, they’re keen to do their best, so the SWPL Cup is going to be a good challenge for us,” said Barry Rodgers. “We want to go and be as competitive as we can in these four games, with in mind the bigger picture of, you know, we’re still coming together as a team and we’re still looking to develop our way of playing, our playing style,” he added. “But it will be a good opportunity to get games under our belt”.