The Regional team under the leadership of Coach Alexia Cassar are truly blue diamonds in the rough, shining brighter the more they grew throughout the season and have proven to everyone why they have been the team to watch. With the initial goal to win the league and head into the Sasol League, Cassar’s team went in guns blazing with a 14-0 win against Young Achievers in their opening match of the SAFA Ekurhuleni Regional League and continued to push through the season with the mindset of champions.
With covid putting a halt to the season, the girls came back not missing a beat and with the goal of winning the league still in sight, a few setbacks proved to stand in their way, with Kempton Park taking the league by nothing more than 1 point!
Kempton Park being their rivals which they had not only met in the league but also in the final of the Engen Cup, JVW had kept Kempton Park on their toes showing that they were not to be dismissed easily. With the whistle being blown to end the Engen Cup Final, the Blue Diamonds had to mentally prepare themselves to stand strong in the penalty shoot out that they had to face. It was a close call but the team faced a bitter result, losing 4-3 in the penalty show down. Despite the result, the girls have shown true passion and commitment on the field from beginning to end, also walking away with two individual awards – Tanna Hollis named Striker of the tournament and Taylor Berkovic Defender of the tournament.
Following their second place finish at the Engen Cup, they continued to persevere throughout the season, putting their best boot forward and doing what they do best. It was not until the very last game, where the final log standings put JVW in second place in their debut season.
We caught up with Coach Lexi and got to reflect on this past season:
What were your goals for the season?
The goal was to win the league and get promoted to the Sasol league, but besides that it is always to prepare and develop the players to move up into the first team and reach their personal football goals.
What was your highlight of the season?
Our first round game against Kempton Park Stars, they were our biggest competition in the league. It was a very physical and high intensity match, we went down 1-0 due to a penalty and a red card, but managed to pull one back and the girls just kept going, and landed up winning that game 2-1.
What was your low of the season?
I think losing the season the way we did is probably my low in my whole coaching career so far. Although having gone through this is a major learning curve.
What is one moment you won’t forget?
The Engen Cup final, witnessing the players give their absolute all in the three days of intense competition even though we lost on penalties, just knowing what they were able to achieve that weekend made me proud to be their coach, the moment shared with my players at the end through the tears and heartbreak is a moment that will stay with me forever. Learning to lose together makes us appreciate winning together even more.
How do you stay motivated when the girls become unmotivated?
I’ve been lucky enough to have an amazing group of players that have rarely had low spells.
Having common goals with the players helps a lot, knowing that I can help them achieve their goals motivates me to push them even in their lows.
What are a few of your go to’s for a good session?
My sessions are planned with a goal in mind, a balance between what we can improve on and consistency on what we’re good at. But the best go to for a good session is competition! Players thrive on it, nothing like good, healthy competition amongst teammates.
Sum up the season in two words
What are some of the adversities you have faced this season?
We faced a few challenges throughout the season, travelling far distances for matches sometimes twice a weekend, opponents not showing up to matches and sometimes even referee’s.
As a coach where do you see your players in the next 5 years?
I hope to see them all achieve their football goals, whether it’s playing for the first team, national team or abroad.
This season has shown to be a tough one without a doubt however the girls have proven that failure is not the opposite of success but more a part of success, as they now have bigger goals set in 2022 and will be coming back into the new season with blue flames in their hearts and continue to buff those blue diamonds in the rough!