‘We’re a finals team’: Safety not enough for Simmons

Few players cherish the Bulls’ rise to Women’s NPL NSW more than Trudy Simmons. For starters, it took three attempts for her to reach the summit of the NSW state leagues – two years longer than it should have. The experienced goalkeeper might have been frustrated to have finished in the top two in 2020 and 2021 which would have earned promotion to NPL, had it not been for circumstances around COVID-19 that kept the divisions in gridlock.

However, she remained undeterred to lead the Bulls to the top flight and now that she’s there, she won’t be satisfied with anything less than a top four finish.

“We actually did the job three years in a row and unfortunately it took us three years to get here. But the team we had stuck together the whole way through, really worked hard and the club supported us the whole time and we actually got promotion last year,” she said. “Everyone says this is our first season in NPL1 but we have very high standards and we believe we are a finals team. That’s what we are working towards.”

The Bulls have been the surprise package of the NPL1 women’s competition this season. In their first year in the top flight, they consolidated themselves in the mid-table but could land as high as 3rd by the end of the weekend if they beat Blacktown on Sunday afternoon and other results go their way. A young team is packed with firepower. Forward Tamires Souza has been an ever-present threat up front this season. Youngsters Avaani Prakash and Peta Trimis are blossoming in attack while the backline increases in strength with the arrivals of Young Matildas Gemma Ferris and Jessika Nash.

For all their youth, they play with a sense of composure beyond their years. They value possession, seek to control the tempo and attack with pace and precision.

The youthful exuberance requires experienced guidance. It places great expectation on the shoulders of Simmons who’s entrusted with the leadership of the young Bulls.

“It’s an interesting position I have this year, there is a bit of an age gap between myself and some of the younger age group… “It’s a little bit tricky at times,” Simmons said.

However, that’s overcome by the quality of character and the iron-willed mentality within the dressing room.

“I think the team that the club, [academy director] Corey [Gameiro] and [head coach] Jaime [Gomez] have built, they have really tried to bring in good people that not only fight for this club but gel with the culture they are trying to create,” Simmons said. “The group we do have enjoys each other’s company and enjoys playing with each other on the field. I think it’s a great mix.”

That mix will be on show once more on Sunday afternoon when the Bulls face Blacktown at Northbridge Oval. Led by the experience of Simmons in the backline, they’re not just motivated to claim points for safety from the drop zone but three points that edge them closer to a finals berth in their first year at the top.

“We are in really good stead, we are in form to get to the top of the table, we are trying to reach the top four,” she said.