New Spartans Women coach aims to change culture of club
New Spartans Women boss Paul Greig believes his experiences of coaching abroad can help transform the Capital club into one of the top teams in the country.
The 30-year-old was appointed the Ainslie Park side’s new head coach in November following Suzy Shepherd’s decision to step down after two years in charge.
Greig, who was born in Kirkcaldy, arrives with a wealth of experience having spent the past two seasons in New Jersey as an assistant coach at National Women’s Soccer League outfit Sky Blue FC.
He had also spent some time coaching in New Zealand prior to his move to the United States.
And with his contract nearing an end at Sky Blue FC, Greig admitted the opportunity to return to his native Scotland with Spartans was one he jumped at.
Ahead of the new SWPL 1 season which gets underway on Sunday with a Capital derby against League Cup and Scottish Cup winners Hibs Ladies at Ainslie Park (3.45pm kick-off), Greig said: “I was coming to the end of my contract with Sky Blue and the club were going in a different direction. A new head coach was coming in and history shows they inevitably bring in their own people. That gave me the opportunity to look around and see what else was out there so I think this job has just come at the right time for me.
“The club has been magnificent in giving me the opportunity to come back home and to drive things forward in terms of the women’s programme. I’m really excited about the role and hopefully I can make a difference.
“Coaching in New Zealand and America has been a unique experience and something that I’m very grateful for. I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the best players in the world when I was in America.
“The biggest thing I’ve wanted to do since I’ve come in at Spartans is change the culture and the understanding of what is required to compete at the top level. It’s a long process, Rome wasn’t built in a day so it will take time to implement things. But hopefully as the season progresses, we can see the benefits of these changes.
“Obviously you’ve got the top two sides in Hibs and Glasgow City. We’ve kept the nucleus of the squad from what Suzy had last year but we’ve also brought in a couple of new additions. We’ve signed Michelle Russell who is an experienced forward and has been in and around the league for a few years but we’ve got also got a lot of exciting young talent, too.
“We’ve just got to take care of ourselves. We want to create an identity of how we want to be known but we also want to be a club capable of attracting the best players in the country.”
Greig is fully aware of the task his players have in trying to topple their near neighbours this weekend.
“We know how good Hibs are. We’ve spoken a lot this week in training about where their strengths lie but also their weaknesses. However, we need to focus on what we do on the pitch,” he said.
“It’s going to be another strong league this year but I still believe anyone can beat anyone on their day. A lot of the time it is just down to that consistency which you get from experience.”
Meanwhile, Hibs boss Kevin Milne revealed he has a selection dilemma to contend with. Milne has added Shannon McGregor, Kirsten Reilly and Jamielee Napier to his squad.
“I’ve got a real headache as there are still places up for grabs,” he said. “It’s been a good pre-season overall as the girls have worked hard so we’re desperate to get the ball rolling.”
In SWPL 2, Edinburgh University Hutchison Vale kick-off their 2018 campaign with a visit from city rivals Hearts to Peffermill (kick-off 1.00pm).