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Torcaso Quits Western Utd to Focus on Philippines

Mark Torcaso has resigned from Western United‘s A-League Women side to focus on leading the Philippines women’s national team, with Kat Smith set to replace him as part of a coaching shakeup in Melbourne’s west.

Assistant coach Helen Winterburn will also depart United and take up a full-time position at Central Coast Sports College in New South Wales, which she will maintain alongside her assistant role with the Young Matildas.

United said that Torcaso and Winterburn both departed with their “full support” and that the former would maintain a connection with the club by filling an advisory role in the club’s developmental program as its Women’s Pathway Manager.

“The club has meant everything to me,” Torcaso said. “The players, the staff and everyone involved in it; to be part of this is something so special and unique.”

Torcaso, 42, was appointed as boss of the Philippines in August, tasked with succeeding former Matildas coach Alen Stajcic after being named the A-League Women’s Coach of the Year for his efforts in leading expansion-side United to a grand final in their first year in the Australian top-flight.

Retaining his position in Tarneit alongside his new international role, he subsequently led the Filipinas into the Asian Games and Olympic Qualifiers, with an 8-0 loss to Australia in the latter seeing them missing out on progression to the next phase on goal difference despite wins over Chinese Taipei and Iran.

However, with the Philippine Football Federation eager to continue to build on the momentum of its women’s side, which was highlighted by a maiden Women’s World Cup appearance and win earlier this year, it is understood that Torcaso has reluctantly stepped away from the A-Leagues to focus on his international commitments.

“I cannot wait to continue watching this team evolve – this team has the capabilities to go all the way,” said Torcaso.

“My connection with the women’s team will remain, just in a different way. I am looking forward to this and helping in whatever way I can.”

“I am proud to have played a part in Western United’s history as the inaugural women’s assistant coach and I am grateful to everyone at the club for the opportunity and for their support throughout my time,” added Winterburn.

In taking over at United, Smith returns to the A-League Women just months after being surprisingly axed by Western Sydney Wanderers ten days out from the start of the 2023-24 campaign, with no official reasoning given as to why the sudden change was made.

She’d led the club to a seventh-placed position in her lone year in charge, overcoming a five-game losing run at the start of the season and seeing significant development in her squad by season’s end.

A former assistant in Melbourne Victory‘s women’s program, she, like Torcaso, also possesses extensive experience in the NPLW Victoria system that has provided the backbone of United’s squad thanks to its links to Calder United – Smith previously coaching Geelong Galaxy and Alamein FC in the Victorian top-flight.

“This is a great opportunity. Building on the foundations and aiming for the next level is an exciting challenge,” said Smith

“Our key focus will involve meticulous planning and preparation, effective communication and continuous improvement.

Smith will take her first training session with her new squad on Monday and be in the dugout for their trip to face Adelaide following the international break.

United currently sits eighth on the A-League Women table, kept out of the finals places on goal difference.

Irish coach Chelsea Noonan will assume the role of senior assistant to Smith, while Andrew Durante will maintain his dual role as an assistant to Torcaso with the Philippines and as coach of United’s U23s.

Source : ESPN