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Praven Jeram, the greatest Lilywhite goal-keeper, coached our women’s team to six successive league titles, 1975 -1980
When the first official Women’s League was formed in 1973, Eastern Suburbs signed up for inclusion. Many of the players were sisters, mothers, wives and girlfriends of our men’s National League squad in those very early years.
While we had some very good players (including Barbara Cox and Sandra Twiname) as members of our women’s squad during those initial years, the Lilywhites approach was somewhat ‘relaxed’ and their results reflected this social approach.
Things took a dramatic turn in 1975 when Praven Jeram, our then National League goalkeeper, and the greatest goalie to keep the Eastern Suburbs goal safe, took-up the coaching reigns of our women’s team. In Praven’s very unassuming way, he bought a level professionalism and focus the team had not experienced to date. Sandra Twiname commented: ‘…he (Praven) had a way of making you take it seriously by getting the best out of you…and he took no nonsense’. Sandra sites Praven’s guidance and his decision to change her position from striker to defender as crucial in her selection to the New Zealand team. And Barbara Cox recounted ‘Training was done with a real sense of purpose…’.
In addition to the high level of professionalism Praven bought to the team, he also developed a highly competitive yet inclusive and supportive team culture. Jeram’s coaching style combined with the players footballing ability literally made them unbeatable. They were crowned League Champions for six straight years from 1975 to 1980, loosing only six times during this entire time, and were unbeaten during the 1977 and 1979 seasons. The Lilywhites also won the Auckland Women’s Knockout Shield on three occasions during that period.