New Ipswich Knights technical director Joe Fenech.
New Ipswich Knights technical director Joe Fenech. Rob Williams

Why Barty's success can motivate footballers

DESCRIBING himself as "Ipswich through and through'', Joe Fenech wants to use his Knights position to benefit the region as a whole.

"I want to make every effort to promote what I am doing at the Knights but it is also very important to me personally to unite football people in Ipswich,'' Fenech said. "To ensure that together, we provide an opportunity for youngsters to become world champions in a similar vein to the magnificent tennis star Ash Barty who has once more put Ipswich on the world stage.''

Fostering the Knights Academy, improving coach education and taking young teams overseas are among his major initiatives.

He thanked Ipswich Knights president Troy Beahan, vice-president Danny Wilson and the Knights committee for the opportunity to return.

"I'm Ipswich through and through,'' Fenech said. "My wife (Katherin) was born here.

"When I arrived here in 1974, I was actually posted at Wacol, which is just down the road.

"I've been fortunate. I've worked with the FFA (Football Federation of Australia) and Football Queensland throughout the state.''

 

PARIS, FRANCE - JUNE 08: Ashleigh Barty of Australia celebrates victory with the winners trophy in the dressing room following the ladies singles final match against Marketa Vondrousova of The Czech Republic during Day fourteen of the 2019 French Open at Roland Garros on June 08, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Corinne Dubreuil/FFT-Pool/Getty Images)
Ipswich's French Open champion and world number one Ash Barty. Pool

Fenech also has a sense of history recognising Ipswich as the leading city in Australia for producing the highest number of Socceroos on a per capita basis. That was highlighted when the Encyclopedia of Socceroos was launched in the city last year.

"My personal hero is Col Kitching,'' the football coaching stalwart said.

"Others that come immediately to mind are Brian Vogler, Norm Rule, Gary Wilkins and still plying his trade in the A-League currently is Neil Kilkenny who came to a couple of training sessions at the Knights the season we won the championship.

"I feel a great responsibility to ensure that at the Knights I do everything in my power to continue to produce high quality players from the region.''

 

Encyclopedia of Socceroos author Andrew Howe at the launch of his book in Ipswich.
Encyclopedia of Socceroos author Andrew Howe at the launch of his book in Ipswich. David Lems

As he works on his master plan for Ipswich's Queensland Premier League club, Fenech acknowledged previous coaches and officials who have done so much terrific work developing football in the region.

They include Ipswich Grammar School duo Andrew Catton and Stewart Drinkeld, who have encouraged and assisted the best young players to further their development with Western Pride and the Knights.

Fenech said Western Pride general manager Pat Boyle and current head coach Terry Kirkham were also accomplished football leaders and role models.

Before working for Football Queensland in various centres over the past decade, Fenech played an important role helping lay the foundations for Ipswich securing a team in the state league.

While he's focused on consolidating the Knights for a stronger future, Fenech knows how important the National Premier Leagues competition is for the city in improving professional standards.

"I hope that they (Western Pride) don't get relegated,'' he said.

"That said, what a game that would be next year if both sides (Knights and Western Pride) play in the QPL.''

Fenech's dream is that the many coaches at clubs throughout the region encourage youngsters to play football and perhaps one day develop another Socceroo from the area.

"There are so many people in Ipswich who have been good for the region and good for the kids,'' he said. "It's important that they don't become divided.''