Sky’s the limit for Conrad
Thursday 30th August 2018 @ 09:50 by Mark Phillip
Sports

A former Audenshaw School pupil is confident of guiding AFC Fylde Ladies to glory this season.

Conrad Prendergast, 26, has just embarked on his second full season in charge of the squad, which will be competing in the Northern Premier League alongside respected clubs including Blackburn Rovers, Derby County Ladies and Doncaster Rovers Belles.

Fylde opened their account earlier this month with a 1-0 victory at Sunderland, thanks to Emily Hollinshead’s goal in the 34th minute, and followed it up with a goalless draw against Nottingham Forest Ladies last weekend.

Conrad, who took the managerial role in February 2017, is hoping the result will set a benchmark for the rest of the season in the third tier of women’s football.

Speaking to Reporter Sport about his objectives for the forthcoming campaign, the former goalkeeper said: “In this league there isn’t a massive difference in terms of quality, so we know that our squad can achieve a top place finish if we do things right throughout the season.

“For me, we aim as high as possible but still take it game by game and re-assess mid way through the season.

“At present we have started really well, and so we focus on the next three points.”

Although the opening two results won’t determine how the season will end, it will, according to Conrad, give a good indication as to what his side require to be challenging at the top end of the table.

“The quality of women’s football is very, very good,” he said.

“We play in the third tier and I’ve witnessed a number of very talented individuals, as well as lots of breathtaking moments in games.

“Last season we reached fifth place – the highest finish ‘Fylde Ladies’ have achieved – and this season I hope to improve on that again and not just marginally. I have a great group of people around me, and we have a lot more unity and that’s something I have learnt is so, so important”.

Like thousands of youngsters with a passion for football, Conrad aimed to play professionally, but when reality hit and the dream was shattered, his natural instinct was to move into coaching.

Reflecting on the past ten years, which included a dream role at boyhood club Manchester City, Conrad said: “I was given the role as Manger of Fylde Ladies in February 2017. I applied for the role whilst managing the Man City Women EDS team and working at the club full time.

“It was a job that I felt capable of doing but knew it would really challenge me as a coach, manager and person.

“I was aware of the club as I’d been to see a few of the men’s games, so I had an idea of how well they do things and the facilities/infrastructure they have in place.

“The last decade has been fantastic and coaching has been brilliant, but I’m still very much on the ladder and looking to climb whilst learning. Hopefully I’ll get to a point where I reach that dream job of coaching and managing a top side.”

With a hunger to learn and a drive to succeed, Conrad will juggle his time between managing the Ladies, coaching the Men’s team and jointly managing the U17 and U18 squads.

And to further cement his coaching credentials, he will also be studying for his UEFA A licence. He said: “At the age of 16 I took my FA Level 1 and within five years I had progressed through the next badge and achieved my UEFA B licence, which was a really proud moment for me.

“I then took a long period where I focused on my coaching and what I had learnt before making the step up again.

“After my first year at Fylde I thought it was time to try and be better, so I’m now on my UEFA A and will be assessed in June next year.

“I recommend any aspiring coaches to take the courses, but to use them as learning opportunities and not focus on the paper you achieve at the end of it. But the best thing I can recommend is experience.”