Ocean Grove footballer Caitlin Pickett has enjoyed her time in the Western United development squad, as the fledgling club prepares for a potential birth in the A-League Women’s competition next season.
The 22-year-old, who grew up in Ocean Grove and came through the ranks at VPLW club Geelong Galaxy United, has enjoyed a storied rise in her footballing journey.
Starting out at local club Surfside Waves, Pickett went through the state league system with Surf Coast and North Geelong Warriors before playing in the NPLW with Galaxy.
“It’s exciting being a part of the first women’s development squad at Western United,” said Pickett, who currently plays for South Melbourne in the Victorian NPLW.
“I feel very honoured and privileged to be representing the girls of the West.
“Being born and raised in Geelong, it’s great to get some representation and opportunities like this.”
Pickett has been full of praise for coach Mark Torcaso, as well as her development squad mates who stem from Calder United, Alamein and South Melbourne.
She said the program had helped her work on her individual game as she prepared for a potential spot in an A-League Women’s squad.
“It’s a great way to improve and develop my individual skills. As a player in a team, it’s hard sometimes to focus on individual skills because we are more focused on different team plays and tactics,” she said.
“So to have these extra sessions at WU, I’m able to see improvement on the little things that sometimes may get left behind at senior level football.
“I have learned a whole lot, just by being there, like working on the weak parts of the game (left foot) and further improving my strengths.
“Meeting and playing with new players is always a great opportunity, as you get to experience and learn from them.
“We have a great bunch of girls who are passionate and willing to learn but also help each other. They have all been a big help to me and my game and I learn something from them every session.
“Also being able to work with other coaching staff and seeing/experiencing different coaching styles of play has been a great opportunity.”
Western United and Central Coast Mariners are expected to hear shortly about their applications to join the 2022/23 A-League Women’s season.
The Australian Professional Leagues, who govern the A-League competitions, met with Football Australia and other key stakeholders this week to make a decision that is expected to be announced shortly.
Pickett said it was exciting to see so many clubs now in the premier Australian women’s domestic competition.
“It’s very exciting to see the women’s game in Australia growing and expanding so much,” she said.
“Giving more players opportunities and getting more exposure for the women’s game is a positive thing with the World Cup just around the corner.
“For Western United, there are so many girls in Geelong, Ballarat and the western suburbs of Melbourne who would love a pathway to being a professional footballer.
“It is a special time for the women’s game in Australia and I am so proud to be part of it.”
If she plays for Western United, Pickett will follow in the footsteps of fellow Geelong bred footballers Laura Spiranovic (Melbourne Victory) and Emily Kenshole (Melbourne City).
“Laura and Emily are inspirations. I played with them at Galaxy for a few years and it was so good to see them do well,” she said.
“I’d also love to be someone who Geelong footballers can look up to.”