The 2022-23 women’s league season is promising to be one of the most attractive and exciting campaigns in recent years.
Ten-time Maltese champions Birkirkara have ushered in a new era following the departure of Melania Bajada after five seasons. Her place will be taken by Jose Borg who will bring with him plenty of experience from both the men and women’s game.
One of Borg’s former clubs, Hibernians, have announced their return to the women’s game after an absence of almost three seasons.
The most decorated club in the Malta’s women’s game named Keith Gouder as coach. He led the Paolites to their first league title in 2014 since 2008 and he hopes he can revert the trend once again after Birkirkara have dominated the local scene in recent years.
Another club that is striving to make an additional upgrade to its recent improvements is Swieqi United.
Together with Mġarr United, Swieqi were expected to challenge the Stripes for the title but they bid farewell to their hopes early in the season after a shaky start and some poor results in the process.
The Owls managed to weather the storm following the appointment of interim coach Billy Mock and pipped Mġarr to second place in the championship. They have also reached the final of the domestic cup for the first time in their history as they continue reach new heights in the women’s game.
To make that required step to compete for silverware, Swieqi will entrust their team in the hands of Dutch coach Judith Kuipers, a UEFA A license holder.
For Kuipers, this will be her second experience outside the Netherlands after being in charge of the Cook Islands women’s national team between February and July 2019 as she guided them during the Pacific Games that year.
“I like to work abroad in different cultures where I can get a different insight about the game of football – for me that is a big challenge,” Kuipers told the Times of Malta.
“The women’s game has grown so much in the Netherlands and I feel that I can bring some insight from my native country to other nations.
“Obviously, coaching abroad provides different challenges such as the culture and the language so it is not just about sports.”
Kuipers pointed out how she already did a similar experience in the Cook Islands which was an eye-opening journey for her.
Moreover, the Dutch coach is keen to commence her adventure in charge of Swieqi after being absent from the game for the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Swieqi had been chasing Kuipers for a long time, having also invited her to Malta during December where she could observe the team closely.
“I have been here in December to speak with Swieqi United and I saw that they have an important project with ambitious objectives. I feel that I fit perfectly
with their methodology,” Kuipers said.
“They have never won any major silverware and that is why they are looking for a person who can help them move to another level after last year’s campaign which was a difficult one for them.
“I could watch Swieqi games and I see that their playing style is similar to many clubs in the Netherlands which is also my idea of football as well. At the same time though, I want my team to be versatile and able to adapt to different principles.”
Swieqi’s team will make sure to pick as much as detail as possible from Kuipers’ brain. A former player in the Dutch top-flight, Kuipers was part of the first-ever women’s league in the Netherlands during the 2007/2008 season.
Kuipers played with SC Heerenveen, Vv Alkmaar and FC Utrecht among other teams. After hanging up her boots, she embarked in the coaching world with her career taking her back to SC Heerenveen and Vv Alkmaar besides other spells in the second-tier of Netherlands.
“I describe myself as a fair and open coach,” she said.
“I also like to communicate with my players which I feel it is very important, in particular with female players.
Back in my playing days, I was a hard working player and I will try to instill that blueprint on my team as well.”
In bid to strengthen their aspirations of competing for silverware, Swieqi are now looking to bolster their squad with new arrivals while they are also on the lookout for an assistant coach.
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