Written & compiled by John Acheson for PHAFC, 2 April 2016
Danny ‘Fiddles’ Fielder, under Doctor’s orders not to play contact sport while still rehabilitating from a bout of meningitis suffered last year, jumped at the chance to coach the women and to be a part of this historic episode in the Club’s development. He will be assisted by Allen Abbott who will be the Team Manager.
The women have been hard at training for many weeks now, however, they had their first opportunity to play this great game on Sunday, 20 March 2016 when they played a practice match against Western Magic (formerly Blacktown Magic) at Kelso Oval. Sixteen new Demons graced the field that day and, whilst we were out-scored by the opposition, our women showed plenty of potential and great enthusiasm and energy.
And our women weren’t disgraced, enjoying plenty of possession of the ball and managing to kick two goals. Coach Fiddles didn’t come with any great expectations for the team, however, he was clearly impressed with their ball handling, kicking ability and enthusiasm. Most of the team could kick and catch the ball and were generally prepared to tackle. They looked like they knew what was required and “none of them were hopeless!” Fiddles was mightily impressed as all the players showed great potential and he would have the opportunity to mould them into a cohesive team as the season progresses.
At half time, Magic only lead by four or five goals and Andrea Roditis had kicked the first of her two majors. It has to be admitted that our players began to run out of puff in the second half and the score blew out somewhat. But Andrea was able to kick a second goal in the final term to keep spirits high. In the end, the opposition won by around 12 goals, however, given it was the first hit-out for most of our players there was a consensus that the team had performed above and beyond expectations and everyone can look forward to the season with optimism.
Mel D’Archy, who has had some footy experience at school, was stand-in captain for the day and she showed great leadership when she resumed her place on the field after suffering a quad strain which left her sidelined for a time.
According to the Club’s records the following players have registered for the Women’s team:
Erin Cheek, Jessy Coulson, Melissa D’Archy, Ellicia Davis, Kahlee Doyle, Nicole Fagan, Kiera Fisher, Gemma French, Emily Guff, Laura Hamilton, Ellie Jones, Brianna Keyes, Mikaela Mahony, Loretta McGrath, Andrea Roditis, Eleanor Rugg, Elizabeth Stephens, Steph Tate, Taylor Webb and Jessie Wood.
We asked some of the players about their experience and expectations. Here are their responses:
|Name||Experience||How did you find out about Women’s AFL at Penno?|
|Melissa D’ARCHY||Has had a taste of Aussie Rules at school playing modified rules such as ‘no contact’!|
Has played a variety of sports mainly at the local level including baseball, basketball, soccer, water polo, swimming and running. Plays mainly for enjoyment but still has a competitive streak.
|Her brother – Andrew D’Archy.|
|Lifetime netballer and has never played Aussie Rules. Has played netball and handball at state level.||Friend’s recommendation – Jessie Wood|
|Kahlee DOYLE||Never played Aussie Rules but has played Premier League soccer and Futsal for 15 years.||Was interested in playing Aussie Rules right about the time Penno was advertising its women’s team|
|Kiera FISHER||Never played Aussie Rules but has followed it all her life. Has played rep soccer and competed in state little athletics.||Poster and friend’s recommendation|
|Gemma FRENCH||Originally from the UK, has never played Aussie Rules but watched it when living in Melbourne. Former soccer player in the women’s national premier league in the UK, trialled for the England women’s team and also played for Liverpool FC.||Friend’s recommendation; for fitness and to make new friends|
|Emily GUFF||Has never played Aussie Rules, nor never watched a complete game and doesn’t know the rules. Has played netball and is a frequent gym user||Coaxed into playing by a friend and now finds she loves the game, team and Club|
|Laura HAMILTON||Has never played Aussie Rules but has been an A grade netballer most of her life.||Has worked for AFL NSW/ACT for two years and thought it about time she gave playing the game a ‘crack!’|
|Brianna KEYES||Never played Aussie Rules. Is a member of the Australian European Handball team and also plays basketball.||Interested in trying something new and to keep up her fitness|
|Andrea RODITIS||Never played Aussie Rules. Plays competitive touch and basketball at national and state level, respectively, and has played a little rugby sevens.||From a friend – Caitlin Thomas|
|Eleanor RUGG (Elly)||Has had a taste of Aussie Rules at high school. Played state futsal and soccer for her whole life.|
|Steph TATE||Has played four seasons of Aussie Rules with UNSW/ES Stingrays. Former netballer and has done the 100km/48 hour OxFam TrailWalker three times.||Referral from Sydney AFL – Penno is closer to home|
What is clear from these responses is that most of the women have played ball sports at some point, and some at a very high level. Catching and kicking wont be a problem for many of them as a result and teamwork and hard work wont be unfamiliar to them either. Whilst the learning curve will be long, it’s reasonable to expect the players to pick up the basic skills quickly and to see the team improve from week to week.
As important as the player’s skills and fitness will be, what will be equally important will be the support that they get, on and off the field. It will be imperative that the players bring friends and relatives along to games to support the women’s team, as well as a good number of their male counterparts helping out when able. We are keen to ensure that the women are integrated into all Club activities and that they feel welcome and a part of it. The Club is investing substantial resources into this new development and it is hoped that a women’s team will become a permanent part of the Club’s ongoing commitment to the great game that is Aussie Rules.
So come along and cheer the women on … and perhaps help to run water or wave the goal flags!