Canberra United has signed a number of new deals to set it up for the coming W-League season, with former US under-23 goalkeeper Chantel Jones set to replace the injured Lydia Williams and the University of Canberra the club's new major sponsor.
Jones was in contact with United boss Heather Reid almost as soon as she witnessed Williams go down with a season-ending knee injury, playing in the US National Women's Soccer League.
The 26-year-old was in goal at the other end of the field when the injury happened, playing for the Washington Spirit alongside one of Canberra United’s American midfielders, Lori Lindsey.
Jones is familiar with the W-League, having played for Perth Glory last season, and United captain Nicole Begg (nee Sykes) is confident the 180cm keeper will slot right in when she arrives in early September.
“We need someone with some experience behind us because Lydia’s always going to be really hard to replace – we saw that when she did her knee [in 2012] … there’s just no one in Australia like Lydia who can do that job,” she said.
“Hopefully Chantel will be able to come in and I think from all accounts, she’ll fit into the team really well. Lori plays with her in the US … and Lori’s got good judgment.”
When the season begins, United will be wearing the University of Canberra logo on their shirtfronts, after signing a two-year sponsorship deal on Thursday.
The University already has the naming rights to the Brumbies and owns the WNBL licence for the Canberra Capitals. Both those teams are based on campus, but United will remain at the Australian Institute of Sport for the time being.
“We continue to use the university gym, and when the fields are ready we’ll certainly be using the fields, but if you have a look at them now, they’re not as in good condition as the AIS,” Reid said.
"From next season I think we’ll be trying to base our coaching staff and our training here, once the fields are restored and we’ve got a good grassed area to train."
University Vice Chancellor, Professor Stephen Parker said the sponsorship was another step towards UC becoming the leading university for sports research and sports education.
“To do that we’ve got to be able to work with teams, elite teams and community teams, so our students can do projects and placements and work with athletes, and our researchers can also do the same,” Professor Parker said.
“Our students will be working with them … and also we’ve got some great facilities now for testing and so on, which is not in use all of the time, so we’re really keen to make it available to Canberra’s teams.”
Trudy Burke, United’s alternate goalkeeper of the past two seasons declined an offer to return for a third, so Melissa Maizels will step into the role from Melbourne Victory, where she was the third keeper.
Georgia Yeoman-Dale is also not returning after taking up an offer with Newcastle Jets. The recruitment of Jones means American Kendall Fletcher will come into the side as a guest international player in November for the last five rounds and finals.