Why Ipswich football newcomer has vital role to play
HAVING so many sporting roles at Ipswich Grammar School, Andrew Catton has his finger on the proverbial pulse.
But while he loves all sport including cricket and rugby league, it's football that has Catton most excited having moved to the Ipswich area.
The former Hervey Bay-based coach has been appointed technical director of the Ipswich Knights, keen to help the region's next generation of young players achieve their footballing goals.
"From a football point of view, moving here was the best thing that I've done,'' Catton, 30, said.
"Having the opportunity to work with good coaches and learn from them.''
Catton has already benefited from ties to Western Pride through technical director Gabor Ganczer and former men's head coach Karl Dodd.
Catton coached junior teams at the Ipswich-based National Premier Leagues club in recent seasons.
Catton started at IGS in June 2015, taking on roles like Sports and Extra Curricular Coordinator, Director of Football and head coach of Ipswich Grammar's successful First XI football side.
His diversity of skills is highlighted in his work as Director of Cricket and boarding master.
But living at Fernvale with his partner Maree has given Catton the chance to play a part in Ipswich's bid for a future A-League licence.
He sees the Knights as pivotal in developing junior talent, working closely with National Premier Leagues Queensland club Western Pride.
"I really just want to go football in Ipswich. It's on the right path at the moment,'' Catton said.
"There's a lot of chat about obviously an A-League side possibly happening in Ipswich at some point.
"I think we've got to get football in this area ready for that.
"I'm passionate about the development of footballers and I want to give that opportunity to kids as much as I can. And I see the Knights as a good opportunity to do that because they welcome anyone basically.''
Catton said an appeal of the Knights was it offered opportunities for players wanting to reach a higher level or enjoy football with their mates.
"There's a place for everybody,'' he said.
As Knights technical director, Catton will work closely with coaches developing players aged 13-16.
He's keen to bolster positive relationships with other major clubs like Western Pride.
The former Pride junior mentor is also excited about working with recently appointed Knights senior team head coach Danny Mchenery, who was assistant coach of last season's state league grand final-winning Pride men's side.
"The guys at Pride were really supportive of me taking on the role at Knights,'' Catton said. "They want a greater link and relationship, and I think I can play a part in that.''
Catton learnt many of his coaching skills during his stint at Hervey Bay and based at the Fraser Coast Anglican College, where he also performed multiple sporting roles.
He gained valuable insights into Queensland's football pathway having previously coached Sunshine Coast and Gympie Fire under 19 sides up to state league level.
However, one of his recent highlights was this year overseeing the Ipswich Grammar First XI team that won the UhlSport Cup for the first time in 15 years after taking out the GPS premiership.
Catton's assistant coach at IGS this year was former Ipswich Grammar student Joe Duckworth, one of Western Pride's best NPL players who is an excellent role model.
Other Ipswich Grammar players who are exciting Western Pride NPL prospects include Alex Parsons, Daniel Hall and Adam Pengelly.
Having recently completed his AFC B Licence, Catton hopes to help the Knights nurture equally exciting talent in next year's Football Queensland Premier League junior competitions.
Catton said refereeing for eight years also opened his eyes to the requirements of coaching.
"I like working with kids and seeing them develop,'' he said.
"It's not about winning trophies for me. It's seeing kids grow and develop.''
Meanwhile, the Ipswich Knights have re-signed Brisbane Premier League goalkeeper of the year Declan Murphy.
Murphy was highly sought over after winning the league's top goalkeeping honour at the recent Football Brisbane awards.
"We are thrilled to have him back on board for 2018,'' this year's Knights head coach Danny Wilson said, taking on a youth team role for next season.
"We look forward to working with him to help allow his game to reach its full potential.''