It’s rare for a team to celebrate winning a league title at its first attempt let alone in its inaugural year, but that’s what the Nothcote City FC senior women’s team accomplished last Sunday when it defeated Epping 4-1 in the final round of the Women’s State League Division 4 North season.

It’s the first year that Northcote City has fielded a senior women’s team and it didn’t take long for the new kids on the block to make the other teams sit up and notice.

Surpassing all expectations, the team remained undefeated in its first 16 matches and only lost once all season in the second last round.

The team has an average player age of just under 17, and is made up of a combination of nine players who played together at Northcote U 15s-16s last season together with about five other players who were playing at another team. They gelled well under coach George Mihos, a former NSL player, and Key Performance coach, scoring a remarkable 96 goals in 18 matches.

Coach Mihos agreed to take on the coach’s job after a long absence from the game, partially influenced by his daughters’ desire to play soccer.

“What’s impressed me is their willingness to compete as a team, their passion and their love for the game,” he said.

He might have added their youthful enthusiasm and exuberance which was plain to see as they celebrated their title win on Sunday.

Like all champions, the team of teens conquered challenges along the way, overcoming their older and physically stronger opponents.

Coach Mihos is a big believer in building a successful team ethos and quotes people like Nelson Mandela. “There’s so many critics in the world. Everybody thinks something is impossible until someone makes it possible”

Mihos said instilling that belief in the girls was important.

“Studying peak performers in every field, every walk of life, the number one thing is belief. I’ve played Premier League, National League soccer, and I remember growing up that there were a lot of talented players that never made the grade, because they didn’t have that attitude, desire or belief. So that was the focus. I knew if I could get that belief in them, you could always work on the skill.”

“Our focus is to develop them as players of course, but players are only as good as the people they become. We encouraged them to learn by making mistakes, encouraged them to work as a team with respect and gratitude for each other, encouraged them to understand you’re only as good as your weakest link.”

Apart from overcoming stronger, older teams, another major challenge the girls faced was finding a balance between their passion for playing the game and their academic obligations.

” They’re predominantly year 11-12. So we need a lot of flexibility with training nights.”

The coach’s pride in his team is obvious. “It’s great to see the girls blossoming as players and as young women.”

Speaking to Neos Kosmos earlier in the week, Mihos was hopeful that Northcote City’s application to apply for an NPL women’s licence for next year would be successful.

Unfortunately, however, the FFV’s announcement of the successful eight applicants last Thursday did not include Northcote City.

Nevertheless, coach Mihos was confident he’d be able to retain most of, if not all the current squad, regardless of whether or not the NPL licence application was successful. The team now has a higher division and new challenges to look forward to.

Postscript: Northcote City under 15-16 girls also enjoyed a remarkably successful season winning the North 15-16 C Division title, scoring a mammoth 118 goals in 16 matches.