Mulvey tips exciting W-League Grand Final

While Brisbane Roar Head Coach Mike Mulvey is preparing to lead his side against a resurgent Melbourne Heart outfit this Sunday at AAMI Park, another match featuring two teams very close to his heart will be in full swing less than five kilometres away.

While Brisbane Roar Head Coach Mike Mulvey is preparing to lead his side against a resurgent Melbourne Heart outfit this Sunday at AAMI Park, another match featuring two teams very close to his heart will be in full swing less than five kilometres away.

The Westfield W-League 2014 Grand Final, contested by Brisbane Roar W-League and his former club Melbourne Victory W-League, will have almost finished by the time the Hyundai A-League fixture kicks off - if extra time or penalties aren-t required to determine the winner.

Mulvey is the reigning Westfield W-League Coach of the Year following a strong three-month stint with Victory W-League at the end of 2012.

He also coached many of the Roar W-League players during his time at the Queensland Academy of Sport and Queensland Sting.

He speaks fondly of the young players he brought into the program throughout his decade-long tenure which include the likes of Brisbane Roar foundation players and Westfield Matildas Clare Polkinghorne and Kim Carroll.

“Clare was going to be a hurdler - or was a hurdler - until an old player of mine [former Matilda] called Sonia Gegenhuber recommended I have a look at her,” Mulvey explained.

“I brought her in, saw something in her and really pleased that she-s gone on to some great heights like captaining Australia.

“Kim came down from Tully, just outside of Cairns to join the program.

“It-s great to see she scored a key goal on the weekend, I-m pleased for her because I know she-s had her injury setbacks over the years.”

Mulvey knows it-s these players, who grew up within the Queensland football set-up, that have paved the way forward for the younger generation of Brisbane Roar W-League players.

He names Gold Coast-based duo Elise Kellond-Knight and Tameka Butt, now aged 23 and 22, as game-changers in Australia-s modern game.

“Those two changed the way the game was played in Queensland because they were athletes as well as footballers and for me, that was the turning point in women-s football,” Mulvey said.

“They came in with a more athletic grounding and they could play football at high speed.

“A lot of the younger girls are benefiting now from the road that these girls have trodden for them.”

The Manchester-born Mulvey also reflects positively on his time in the Victorian capital and is proud he played a part in bringing Welsh midfielder Jessica Fishlock, who he calls the “best player to play in the competition”, to Melbourne.

“I have fond memories of working with the Victory girls, they-re a great bunch,” Mulvey said.

“I enjoyed it and I-d like to think I helped bring a little bit of professionalism to the set-up down there.

“Jess, she-s the best import we-ve had - she-s dynamic, she-s dynamite and a fantastic person to boot. She-s also very humble.”

When pressed about the Grand Final match-up at Lakeside Stadium on Sunday, Mulvey - who was a spectator when these two teams met in Brisbane just nine days ago in the final league match of the season - knew there were a few players who could turn the game around for either side.

“You-ve got the FIFA World Player of the Year [Nadine Angerer] in goals for Brisbane, who comes with an awful lot of experience and has the ability to calm the heads during the week,” he said.

“I think Nadine-s experience should count for a lot in the build up.

“Jess Fishlock is also very experienced, she-s played many World Cup qualifiers and Lisa de Vanna is dangerous on her day.

“Last week, Hayley Raso and Tameka Butt caused Melbourne Victory some issues with their pace and Mini-s [Katrina Gorry-s] free kick wouldn-t have looked out of place anywhere in the world.”

And his tip for the 2014 decider?

“It-s going to be a closely fought game. I-m tipping Brisbane will win in normal time to give the girls the opportunity to get the trophy, do the lap of honour and get themselves over to AAMI Park to watch the A-League team,” he said with a smile.

“I think it will be a very attractive game of football in the final because both teams play great football.

“Women-s football still needs more recognition in this country, it still needs a lot of support and I-m very proud that our club really gets behind our W-League team.”

Brisbane Roar will contest the Westfield W-League Grand Final 2014 this Sunday, 23 February at Lakeside Stadium, Melbourne. Kick-off is at 3pm AEDT and will be shown nationally on ABC1 from 3pm.

Brisbane Roar-s Hyundai A-League team play Melbourne Heart also on Sunday, 23 February at AAMI Park, Melbourne. Kick-off is at 5pm AEDT.