Former Matilda Rachael Doyle has hung up her boots and is making her name as a coach in the college game in the United States.
The ex-Central Coast Mariners defender moved to America in 2011 to play football for Washington State.
After starring for the university and spending three years as team captain, she graduated in 2014 with a degree in Kinesiology.
Doyle started her coaching career as an assistant with Eastern Kentucky, then spent two years as a coach with the university of Hawaii.
In January this year she was appointed as an assistant with the University of Oregon, which play in one of the top conferences in the country.
“It’s been a bit of a long journey to get where I’m at,” the 30-year-old told The World Game.
“Back in Australia we had the youth Under-19s and Asian Confederation Cup but we didn’t make it through to the World Cup.
After that I sort of edged out of the Young Matildas and I wasn’t going to be in the Matildas squad, so then the W-League started up and I had Central Coast Mariners.
“I was there for two years and that’s when I started to come over to the States. The head coach I’m working with now, Graeme Abel, actually was the one who recruited me to Washington State.
“I had four years at Washington State, had a blast, came back home for a little bit after that and then I thought I want to have a full-time job in coaching. So I ended up at Eastern Kentucky, which was a lot of fun.
“Just learning and working there, and then I went to Hawaii as I wanted to be on the west coast. Then the opportunity to coach with Graham came up and I was stoked.
“To be able to coach in the Pac-12, probably one of the best if not the best conference for women’s soccer in America, is a huge thing. I’m really excited to be here.”
Doyle says injuries influenced her decision to retire early as a player, but her love of coaching has blossomed.
“I get thrown into practice every now and then, if we’re down a player, but that’s really the extent of it [playing],” she admitted. “Going through college I was a bit done after that, my knees have been up and down.
"Luckily I haven’t done anything major major to them but they’re not… So I just decided I could keep playing but it was hard on my body and I thought what do I want to do next.”
“I love coaching. The thing I love most about coaching college here is it’s not just on the field, that’s probably 15-20% of what we do.
"You get to watch young women grow and develop for years right under your eyes, at such a crucial time when they’re aware from their parents. You can be their sounding board, you can give them advice and all that stuff, that’s one part of the college game I really love.
"It’s really encompassing in the States while in Australia, it could be like that, but there’s not a lot of full-time jobs and then also it’s not all the time with the players.
“You see them at training three times a week and then on game-day, here it’s a lot different. It’s a really good environment to be in.”
The University of Oregon play in a division against elite teams such as Stanford, UCLA and Washington State. Doyle says the aim with the Ducks is to improve the program and take the team to new heights.
“Oregon historically looking back have been a very talented team, but they just probably haven’t got the results to go their way to keep pushing up to the next level and that’s what we’re here to do,” she explained.
“To plug the gap and get the team where it should be going. That’s our challenge and we’ll be playing against some of the best players in the world. Jessie Fleming was at UCLA last year, Catarina Macario is going to be phenomenal player at Stanford, and many, many more. It’s a brilliant level to be at.”
At Oregon, Doyle has been reunited with head coach Abel. The experienced Abel was a former assistant with the United States Women’s national team, which won both the 2015 and 2019 FIFA World Cups, as well as head coach of Oklahoma and Washington State.
“He’s a really good coach,” Doyle said. “He gives me the call ‘do you want to come to Oregon with me’, when he could have stayed with the national team, and I was like that’s an opportunity to coach in the Pac-12, and with him as well.
“I’ve always respected him and he has such a passion for the game – I was all in straight away.”
The Ducks have been limited to training only, with the season postponed because of COVID-19 and expected to restart in March. Doyle is focused on developing her skills in the Pacific Northwest for now, but admits one day coaching in the W-League or overseas in the professional game appeals.
“I’m open to anything,” she said. “But I know right now for the next three to five years I want to be in Oregon and do some special things here first. One day I hope to have my own team and move on, have my own program.
“That could be here in the States, which I’d be very happy with, but if I do get the opportunity overseas or Europe, then I don’t think I would ever turn that. I’ll wait and see what happens in the world. But I’m very happy here growing and developing.”