National Women’s Soccer League expansion team Angel City FC made history by appointing Freya Coombe as their first ever head coach.
The former NJ / NY Gotham FC manager left the East Coast team to take on the exciting new project and meet the challenges of building a site from the ground up.
Coombe explained exclusively to 90min that leading Angel City was not an opportunity she could turn down, adding: “I wanted to be with this club that really hopes to raise the standard of providing not only NWSL, but women’s football globally.”
As the team prepares to kick off on March 19, Coombe shared his thoughts on the trip so far.
How did you first become involved with Angel City FC?
“I think it was just watching what they did, you know? I say this a lot, but at that time no one really had that communication with people in the organization. So it was just to see what they posted on social media , and it was like everyone got to know what they were doing and see what was in the press. And it just sounded great. And it was just contagious.
“I thought, ‘Yes, I want to be a part of this project, I want to be with this club that really hopes to raise the standards for providing not just NWSL, but women’s soccer globally. But then there was everything they do off the field also with some of the initiatives and how they support women in society in leadership and business. You know, it was just something I was like, ‘Yeah, this, this suits me well’.
“It’s a great honor, to be honest, to be the coach they have chosen and how the fans there are just the majority. And I know, everyone probably says it’s about the club’s fans, but the angel says the fans are so devoted, so motivated, so loyal, so kind of crazy. their confidence, and their faith is something very special.And I think I’m the first person who will always be associated with Angel City, to be the first head coach of the club with such a big brand that, let’s face it, will go to the moon.
“There’s no roof over this club. I think it’s just a very humble moment to say ‘I’m part of something special,’ and that’s a great honor.”
What have been some of the challenges of building a team from scratch?
“I think one of them is sometimes just like people think when you build a team, it’s like ‘Okay, you can take anyone’, and it’s even like you’ve seen with Expansion Draft. And it’s like there’s an element where you can start from the beginning and go, “You know, if we could have some players here, who would we like?” And you can go after them. But let’s face it, some of those know the players that everyone would like in their team, they are simply not available.
“It’s not even if they would like to come or not, it’s that they’re on contract for another three or four years. We can ‘t pay a player the salary cap for the league, which is what some of the players are in other countries. So I think there have been some challenges there when it comes to building that list of players and even the Expansion Draft process. to expand and do business, and, you know, I think it was a case of a number of players that they asked to be available to come to us, either because they have family in California or they are really excited over what we do. So we could make it work. “
What are the goals for the team’s debut season 2022?
“I think one of the biggest we have and we want to do the best we can, I think playoffs are always the standard you want to try to break into any season. But honestly, I also just want to put one really good product on the pitch so fans that, you know, it’s no secret how many season tickets we’ve sold.
“And if I can put an exciting product on the field, which, you know, makes these people come back and makes the fans come back every time they buy, you know, one more ticket and another ticket, it’s a real one. good goal for us to have it too.Because the game day experience with 20,000 people in Banc will be unreal.So if I can put a team out there that people want to keep watching and support, then that’s really my goal for the season too . “
What do you hope to be able to build both on and off the pitch?
“I think the biggest thing is to build a culture, like the culture piece becomes very important. So you know, reinvent the league a bit and the club experience for players within the league. So we can provide a really safe culture and a safe culture where players can then feel are challenged in the sport? It’s all about supporting them, so that they can achieve their goals in their career and also outside of their career.
“So I think we have that good culture in the locker room and provide an environment where we can help players succeed, help build their brands as well, and kind of change the game that way. So they do extra work because they did recommendations, and they get money and they get what they deserve, rather than doing extra work because they had to take a spin class at 6 o’clock before coming to training. It will be important for us. “
Do you think the inclusion of Angel City FC and San Diego Wave is a turning point for the league?
“Yes, I think it’s the time for the inclusion of these clubs with everything that has happened, I think it must be a turning point for the league. Because we can not go back to where we have been, in terms of the league and the year as the league So I think with the clubs coming in, and the new kind of feeling around the league is “Okay, we have to do something now”, we can not just talk about it anymore. it in combination will be a turning point. But I think it’s difficult. I think we will raise the standard. And that’s part of our mission. And it can incubate some feathers, and I think we’ve done it. “On our journey so far. But I think it’s okay to ruffle some feathers when you enter as long as the league and the players will benefit from it.”
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