Marko Torcaso will juggle life as a head coach of not only Liberty A-League Grand Finalists Western United, but also the Philippines women’s national team. KEEPUP’s Sacha Pisani charts his journey.
It’s been a whirlwind 12 months for Mark Torcaso. Up until a year ago, he had never coached at A-Leagues level, let alone on the international stage.
Fast forward to now and the highly-rated Victorian is not only the reigning Liberty A-League Coach of the Year after a remarkable first season with expansion club Western United, but he is Alen Stajcic’s successor as the Philippines women’s national team boss.
“It is a dream come true,” said Torcaso, who will have Andrew Durante as his assistant after the Philippines enjoyed an historic 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup with fellow Aussie Stajcic at the helm.
Torcaso will continue in his role as Western United coach in 2023-24, juggling domestic and international commitments just like Dutch legend Guus Hiddink did with Chelsea and Russia previously in the 2000s.
For the 42-year-old, the journey to the Philippines completes a long road from grassroots football and the NPL, to the A-Leagues and the international arena.
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Torcaso, who has also spent the past 22 years as the director of football at St Monica’s College, knows the Victorian pyramid better than most.
He had been the Calder United head coach for six years – winning three Grand Finals and four consecutive NIKE FC Cups, having coached Bundoora United senior women and Under-16 girls at Whittlesea Zebras previously.
He has also had Liberty A-League experience himself prior to 2022-23, serving as a goalkeeper coach at Melbourne Victory, helping the team to win the 2014 Championship.
That experience with Calder United led to his appointment as Western’s inaugural head coach heading into their debut campaign last term.
“I still probably pinch myself a little bit every couple of days because coming from someone that’s come through the whole footballing process,” he told KEEPUP at the start of last season.
“Being in the NPL system and old WPL, I still pinch myself because this is something I always wanted to do.
“From that perspective, each week is a different week and challenge but an exciting dream. Getting to share it with so many people, not just the players but staff, that was a critical thing for me. Make sure we got that balance right – playing wise and staff wise.
“Literally everyday just pinching myself, going I can’t believe we’re here and doing this but also being humble about it and excited about it.”
A close partnership between Western and Calder has been formed in recent years, with a pathway established from juniors all the way through to the A-Leagues.
Look no further than Torcaso and players Alana Cerne, Adriana and Melissa Taranto, Emma Robers, Julia Sardo, Aleks Sinclair, Natasha Dakic, Alyssa Dall’Oste, Stacey Papadopoulos, Raquel Deralas and Harriet Withers – who had all arrived from the NPLW VIC juggernaut for the 2022-23 season.
They were all at the heart of Calder’s championship-winning campaign in 2022, and contributed to Western sensationally finishing second in the regular season before reaching the Grand Final against Sydney FC.
Western lost to the Sky Blues in the decider, but Torcaso was still crowned the Liberty A-League’s Coach of the Year, having guided the newest team on the block to within two points of a Premier’s Plate.
“I am very proud to receive this award, but as I have said all season it is a team effort and it would not be possible without the rest of the staff and the playing group,” he said after winning the award at the Dolan Warren Awards night.
“A special thanks goes to Jason (Sourasis), Chris (Pehlivanis), Mal (Impiombato), Amanda (Stella) and the board for all of their work and constant support in our inaugural season.
“It was an honour to represent Western United in our first Liberty A-League season. I am proud of what we achieved and already looking forward to going again next season.”
Mark Torcaso CV
- Head coach Philippines women’s national team: August 2023 – present
- Head coach Western United A-League Women: July 2022 – present
- Head coach Calder United NPLW VIC: December 2015 – 2023
- Head coach Bundoora United women’s team
- Head coach Whittlesea Zebras Under-16 girls
- Director of Football St Monica’s College Epping: January 2001 – present
- Goalkeeper coach Melbourne Victory A-League Women: December 2013 – December 2015
- Head goalkeeper coach NTC Girls: August 2010 – August 2015
Famous coaches to juggle club and international jobs
- Sir Alex Ferguson (Aberdeen and Scotland 1985-86)
- Guus Hiddink (Chelsea and Russia 2009)
- Leonid Slutsky (CSKA Moscow and Russia 2015-16)
- Fatih Terim (Galatasaray and Turkey 2013)
- Rinus Michels (Barcelona and the Netherlands 1974)