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Emma Stanbury is comfortable with the knowledge that her days as a professional footballer appear limited.
It's why she's welcomed a new challenge after accepting a role from Football Mid North Coast to become Mid Coast FC Women's Premier League coach for the 2023 season.
The 31-year-old played six matches for Newcastle in 2016/17, eight for Canberra in 2019/20 and 12 for Adelaide United last season, but don't for a second think she's looking for a temporary home.
"I'm looking to stay at Middies for the long-term," she said.
"I want to turn this into a place to be proud of and create a really good football culture at a place girls want to travel to play for."
Stanbury feels the experience she gained playing at the Jets, United and the Reds will be beneficial for her young Middies teammates.
She has also been an assistant to well-known identities such as former Matilda Heather Garriock, former Matildas coach Hesterine de Reus and Leah Blayney.
"I've learned a lot from them so it's exciting I'm able to bring it up here and pass it onto the next generation of footballers," Stanbury said.
The main reason for the move to the Mid North Coast was mainly family-related while Stanbury indicated she wanted to start the transition from player to coach.
"I thought I'd come up and be closer to family and start a future up here and get ready to transition into the next stage of football which is obviously the coaching side," she said.
She has family connections at Coopernook and Tamworth, while northern New South Wales was often a favourite holiday destination during her playing days between 2019 and 2022.
"I'm 31 now, having a year off from the A-Leagues and really want to ground myself because I haven't really had a home due to moving so much with soccer," she said.
The main focus for the new coach will be on working to improve the mental toughness of the side who has had a challenging last couple of years.
The squad has talent, but with inexperience comes inconsistent performances.
"When you're a team that's been at the bottom for quite a few years it becomes something that you start to believe is going to become normal," the coach said.
"I'm big on the mental side of the game so it's not just football for me. I hope coming in and teaching the girls a different way to look at the game might be able to help step them up the next level.
"There are girls who are coachable and if we can step up that mental aspect it might take their game to the next level.
"Whether that means we might improve by one spot on the ladder this year and continue to grow over the next couple of years and get further and further up, then that's progress to me."
The Middies will hold their final selection day for the 2023 season at Taree Zone Field on November 8 from 6pm.
"We were only going to hold one, but after seeing it I said to the club I needed another trial," Stanbury said.
"There were quite a few girls that were really trying to make a statement and show that they wanted to be first graders."
Stanbury said the most exciting thing is that some of the players are young.
"Whether it's two or three years of working hard, I can see there's going to be quite a lot of Mid North Coast girls pushing for A-League spots in the future.
"That can only be good for us if we can get them at this stage and start the good habits."
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