THE Daily Post has been talking to Linda McKeogh, the manager of Airbus Ladies.
Please tell us a bit about yourself and your football background
My football career started more than 20 years ago. I was living in Dublin where I grew up and had started my first job in M&S and jumped at the chance to play when it was suggested the company start up a ladies football team. I'd always wanted to play football but it just wasn't a sport that girls could get involved in. Sparks United was where it all began.
I left M&S to travel the world and was never in one place long enough to join a team so several years passed by. I got married and had children, my eldest son who was five at the time was playing for the school team and he told his teacher I used to play. His teacher was playing for Airbus Ladies at the time and encouraged me to go along that was 13 years ago.
I've been with Airbus Ladies ever since, firstly as a player, then player-manager when I took over the running of the team about seven years ago and in more recent years as coach/manager along with help from other managers.
How do you feel the season has started for Airbus Ladies?
The opening game of the season didn't go at all to plan away at Caernarfon. Getting us off to a poor start, we put it behind us, passed it off as a bad day at the office and haven't looked back since. We are sitting in fifth place out of 12 and pretty happy with how the season is going so far.
What are your aims for the team in the North Wales Women's League this season?
To finish in the top three and we feel we have a good chance in the League Cup.
From what you have seen this season, what do you think of the standard of the NWWL? Which teams do you consider the strongest?
The standard of the teams within the NWWFL is varied - there's a great mix of very experienced teams right through to new teams coming in. It's grown year on year and with 12 teams entered this season it's the best it's ever been. Caernarfon Ladies are the ones to watch, played five and won five.
What sort of a manager are you? A shouter? A tea-cup thrower? Or do you prefer to get your message across quietly but assertively?
I'm none of those three things, motivating players to play well for me is about tuning into them as people as well as players and above all staying positive and letting them know when they've done well. A little praise goes a very long way, negativity can be very damaging very quickly and motivating people with a positive spin on things always works. We don't put up with any nonsense between players and players will be asked to leave if they cause any problems. If a player is happy off the field they are far more likely to be happy on the field. That's not to say I don't shout from the sidelines when we score.
How are the new players who have joined you this season settling in?
We've had a few new players join us this season and we are very pleased, they have fitted right into the team and are a real asset to the club. Lydia Harrison, who has just turned 16, is already scoring goals for us.
How much involvement do you have with the Airbus UK men’s team?
We train on the same night as the men's team and their assistant-manager Lee Starkey has been coaching us for quite some time now and helping on the management side of things too. All the teams at Airbus have been very supportive of the ladies, particularly over the last couple of seasons and often turn up at our games to support us.
Do you have any managerial role models?
My managerial role models are Lee Starkey, mentioned above, and our new assistant-manager Mari Edwards, who joined us this season and has made a huge impact already. Both have far more qualifications (UEFA coaches) than I and I have total admiration for them both.
Lee is by far the best coach/manager I have ever met. He is tremendous at his job and has a way of motivating players that makes them believe they can do it. He brings out the best in every player.
Mari I've admired as a player for years and is an incredible coach. She gets straight into the session and immediately motivates people to want to do well and give it their all. She's very positive and always smiling.
Sian Smith, one of our senior players who has been involved with the management team, is a terrific role model for youngsters coming up. She is gaining more coaching badges and coaching girls of all ages.
We are very lucky at Airbus Ladies to have such a strong management team behind us.
What are your ambitions in management?
My ambitions are to see Airbus Ladies lift the league cup again and get as close to the top of the table as we can, and to keep pushing the team on to great things without losing the amazing team spirit we've always had.
Photos (top) Manager Linda McKeogh and (mid-story) assistant Mari Edwards.