Tag: Murray Bushrangers

Opportunity becomes a reality for Webster

REBECCA Webster first joined TAC Cup Girls side, the Murray Bushrangers as a 14 year-old.

At that point in time, Webster admits the opportunity to play in a nationwide female Australian Rules competition was looking unlikely. But four years later, the 18 year-old is living out her dream; drafted by Geelong at pick seven.

“I’m really lost for words,” Webster said. “I never thought the day would come that we’d be sitting in there, so to get my name read out with the Geelong Cats was something I’ll remember forever and cherish.”

The occasion was even more special for Webster, as she had turned 18 the day before she got drafted, prompting a perfect birthday present. Before draft day though, Webster had contact with the Cats and says they were very engaging when trying to get her to the club.

“They were really good people and I know quite a lot of girls from Geelong,” Webster said. “They were very inviting. “They just wanted regional girls that were going to produce some great use coming through and I think that they’ve really done that with the picks they’ve picked.”

Webster joins the club alongside fellow Vic Country representatives such as Nina Morrison, Sophie Van De Heuvel and Georgia Clarke. She knows all these players well and looks forward to continuing her football journey with them.

“All the girls that are going to be playing down at Geelong, they’re really good girls and they know how to play footy,” Webster said. “We’ve got a really good bond so I think playing alongside them will be really good.”

Representing Vic Country over the years has been a valuable experience for Webster, who has modelled her game off one particular teammate who is now on an AFL Women’s list.

“I think I’m quite an individual but I’d love to think that I play kind of like Darcy Guttridge, she’s quite an attacking half-back player,” she said.

Like many up and coming players do, Webster also has some football idols. While Webster’s admired female footballer is a common admired name, she looks up to one of the more interesting characters of the men’s game.

“Probably Daisy Pearce (is my football idol),” the 18 year-old said. “From the males, (I like) Jason Akermanis. “When I was younger, I just thought he was cool.”

Webster spent some time this year with Melbourne University. While it was a big step-up, she says it was a valuable experience.

“The step was more so body size to get used to but other than that, I really enjoyed it and thought I fitted in pretty well,” Webster said.

The midfielder/ defender had to balance this along with playing in other teams, going to school and working. This can be a stressful prospect for anyone, but Webster admits she learnt how to juggle these commitments through football.

“With Year 12 and studies and all that sort of stuff alongside footy and work commitments, it’s obviously a very big juggle,” she said. “But with the footy side of things, I’ve learnt a lot of time management so that’s really helped this year.”

Now looking ahead to 2019, Webster hopes to use these lessons at her new AFL Women’s club. She also hopes to utilise her strengths in her game to make the most of her time at the Cats.

“I’m quite happy playing half-back flank down there,” Webster said. “But playing in different positions is something that I look forward to trying out and definitely with senior footy, you can be chucked anywhere.”

Brown learning off others to succeed

MURRAY Bushrangers bottom-ager, Millie Brown loves to learn.

She has had the privilege in being able to learn in one of the leading TAC Cup Girls sides, alongside coach, Sam Ahmet and AFL Women’s Academy member, Rebecca Webster. Brown says people like this not only help her learn, but make the learning process an enjoyable one.

“It was a bit slow when I was starting because I just transitioned from the boys and I found it a lot different but I’ve had some really good people around me like Sam Ahmet, he’s been my coach at the Bushies for the whole time of being here so him and a lot of the older players like Becky Webster are great to have around,” she said. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”

This learning attitude still exists for Brown even though she HAs been playing football for a long time. Her football journey started as a youngster and has now flourished into a thriving career.

“I have (played footy all my life),” the 17 year-old said. “I started Auskick in Grade One, I missed Grade Prep, I was always messing around with the boys at school playing footy and through up until top-age 14s then transitioned over to the girls.”

Since transitioning to the girls, Brown has enjoyed plenty of game time with Murray, playing eight games this season. Brown also made the Vic Country squad for this year’s AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Even before knowing she was in the team, Brown was excited nonetheless.

“I am looking forward to a chance at that (playing nationals),” the Vic Country representative said. “They’re always a great time, a really great standard of footy with all the girls and coaches so yeah I’m looking forward to that. “I’m pretty comfortable with a lot of the girls now, I probably won’t be too nervous heading into that. “I’ll just give it my best shot and see how I go.”

This would not have been possible if Bushrangers coach, Sam Ahmet did not get into contact with Brown’s father, Paul Brown, who played 84 games for Geelong.

“I think Sam got in contact with my Dad actually and I went down and watched one of the trainings when they (Bushrangers) were still with the Bendigo Pioneers,” the 17 year-old said. “Then I joined fully in the next year and I think I played a bit of the V/Line cup.”

Murray endured a difficult TAC Cup Girls campaign this year, and Brown says although she’s disappointed, she was impressed about the attitude shown in the side’s losses.

“We’ve had a few losses and we were expecting to go a bit better than we did,” she said. “But you know, that’s footy, that happens. “I think our team still showed a lot of courage in the games that we did lose so the effort was still really there.”

Looking back, Brown believes that the long travel time was sometimes a factor in the side’s losses.

“Sometimes it can be difficult with long trips, I think we had to travel three hours to go to Oakleigh so that can be a factor but it makes it hard more so with training,” she said. “We’ve got a very spread out squad so we have to travel and an hour and we can only train once a week so it does make it more difficult but you work with it.”

Brown has been able to work with the scattered training, where she has been able to develop her versatility. She believes this is a strength in her game.

“I think I’m quite a versatile player, I think I can pop into different positions comfortably and just do what the coach asks me,” Brown said. “I love to learn and play off the other people around me.”

But being the trademark learner that she is, Brown still has skills in her minds that she would like to improve on.

“I’m really working on my overhead marking at the moment because I’ve grown a lot recently,” she said. “So now that I’m a bit of a bigger body on the field, I need to clunk them.”

Brown is eligible for next year’s AFL Women’s Draft and could be picked up as a father-daughter selection, given her father played for Geelong.

Player Focus: Ely Smith

MURRAY Bushrangers have secured their spot in the finals race after outclassing the Bendigo Pioneers at Ikon Park over the weekend, defeating them by 27 points.

Ely Smith continues to make a case for a possible late second round pick with another strong showing in the Wild Card round against the Bendigo Pioneers. While originally missing selection in Vic Country’s original side, Smith later received a call up after Country lost their inside midfielders in Jye Caldwell and Mitch Riordan, and Smith’s continued showing of good form.

In the TAC Cup, Smith leads in clearances, sits third in disposals, third in contested possessions, third in handballs, tenth in inside 50s and twelfth in tackles. This strong bodied midfielder knows how to take a tackle and use his size and strength to gain prominent position. While his inside game is easily his most impressive quality, he by no means lacks an ability on the outside.

With stakes increasing heading deeper into finals, we could see a big lift from the Bushrangers’ contested possession winner and a big add to his stocks heading into the 2018 National Draft.

Quarter by quarter:

Ely Smith’s usual impact was nowhere to be seen in the first, tallying only the two possessions for the quarter, and being quickly dealt with on his first touch.

After some time to reflect at the break, and probably some choice words from his coach, Smith entered the second term with a huge lift in form. Off the tap down he read the drop best and manoeuvred well in tight space to burst into the Bushrangers’ attacking half. He shot off a lot of clean passes from the middle, aiding the Bushrangers’ aggressive run forward and picked his man well despite having Pioneers hanging off his back. He continued to boast a perfect read on the ball, spoiling a mark along the wing and collecting it off a bounce. He copped a tackle soon after but got a short pass away, quickly regained possession and chipped it up to the square and affected a Bushranger goal.

He kept lifting in the third, earning a clearance from the first stoppage and locking down a getaway in the second. In the next centre bounce, Smith earned himself a clearance and an inside 50, bursting away with the pill and setting up a shot on goal. He trapped the ball carrier out of the next centre bounce, causing a stoppage, and laid a second tackle to dispossess and hand Dylan Clarke a clearance. Some strong kicking and a burst away from congestion frequently broke Pioneer lines. Breaking one tackle and withstanding a second, Smith kicked clean down the passage which resulted in another Bushrangers goal. He repeated the same action soon after, booting the ball over the centre square out of their defensive half, shattering Pioneer lines. If he was not first to the footy, he was usually a close second, wrapping up his man before they could take a step.

The hitouts stopped going his way at the beginning of the final term, with one thumped long and another hit high. Though unlike the first, Smith turned it around and gained his first disposal with a chip kick inside 50 from a lead through the passage. He went onto to clean up his team’s messy clearance work from the stoppage, extracting it from the congestion and again creating movement. He broke lines with excellent work out of the back, including a strong kick in the defensive 50 which created some easy movement. Not long after, he received the ball at the end of the chain that he started inside 50 but missed to the left with his set shot. He got a second chance at it off the kick in, causing a turnover, but was unsuccessful in converting. Smith is an easy pick for best on ground, for his massive second and third quarter impact, dominating both the inside and outside game for the day.

 

Final Stats:

29 disposals (16 contested)

12 kicks

17 handballs

12 handball receives

6 tackles

6 clearances

6 inside 50s

2 rebounds

 

It cannot be said definitively but it is likely Smith will be taken somewhere in the middle of the Draft. Producing a strong showing in the finals has the potential to catch recruiters’ eyes, so if he is able to keep his form up and goes deeper into finals, that’s more time to affect a positive opinion.

Weekly wrap: NSW/ACT state leagues

A SECOND player from the NSW/ACT contingent that travelled to the Gold Coast for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships has emerged as a premiership player this year, while a number of others had the week off due to their sides making their respective grand finals.

Murray Bushrangers star, and NSW/ACT defender, Eloise Ashley-Cooper became the second player from her state side to win a premiership in the 2018 season. Ashley-Cooper joined Eastern Allies teammate, Alyce Parker in celebrating a flag, after her Finley side won the Shepparton and District Junior Football League Youth Girls’ Grand Final. In a low-scoring affair which saw just six goals kicked between the sides – four of which came in the first term – the Cats got up with a 4.9 (33) to 2.0 (12) victory over Shepparton United. Ashley-Cooper’s terrific season ended on a high note, named best on ground and booted a goal in Finley’s victory. Unfortunately it meant Bushrangers teammate Kate Adams was on the wrong side of the result, named in the best for the Demons.

There was a bye in the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division, after last week, Angela Priftis enjoyed a 23-point win over fellow NSW/ACT Under-18 representative, Jemima Wrigley. Priftis’ Auburn-Penrith Giants proved too good for Wrigley’s Southern Power, booting seven goals to three after quarter time to record a 8.4 (52) to 4.5 (29) victory. The match was a pre-cursor for the finals series which starts this week as the third placed Giants host the fourth placed Power in a do-or-die semi-final at Blacktown this weekend. Meanwhile Division One played its first week of finals on the weekend, as Brenna Tarrant kept her premiership dream alive in East Coast Eagles’ 18-point win over Pennant Hills Demons. She was named second best for the Eagles in the win, as the home side restricted their opponents to just one behind after quarter time, booting the final four goals of the match. They face Woollongong Saints for a spot in the Division One decider.

In the Sydney Harbour Youth Girls Division One, Willoughby Mosman earned a week off after their semi-final win the week before, so Zoe Hurrell and Alice Mitchell will look forward to the grand final this weekend. They will be hoping for a similar result to the semi-final, with the Southern Power winning their preliminary final to earn a second crack at the top side. The Power’s win did come at the expense of Georgia Garnett and Emily Hurley‘s Kellyville Rouse Hill’s side, as the Magpies went down to 17 points, bundled out of the finals race. In the AFL North Coast Women’s league, Ahlani Eddy rested up after her side Sawtell Toormina Saints won through to the grand final with a semi-final victory the week prior. They easily accounted for the Port Macquarie Magpies – the side that will run out against Eddy and her side in the decider this weekend.

Over in the AFL Broken Hill Women’s competition, both Melisa Keenan and Eliza Cumming earned a week off after their South side won the minor premiership. In the pre-final match, Central knocked off North by 28 points in what was an upset given North had finished three wins ahead of Central and earned the home ground final. The pair will hope to wear premiership medallions by the end of the weekend if South can topple Central in the decider.

Weekly wrap: NSW/ACT state leagues

WITH many seasons coming to a close and finals in full swing, plenty of Under 18 NSW/ACT stars stood up to the occasion on the weekend across the various state leagues.

In the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division, Jemima Wrigley featured in the Southern Power’s 23-point loss against the Auburn-Penrith Giants. Her side will face Angela Priftis’ Giants again in the semi-finals next week. In Division One, Brenna Tarrant was named best-on-ground for the East Coast Eagles for the second time this season, despite her team’s loss against the Wollongong Saints.

NSW/ACT representatives, Zoe Hurrell and Alice Mitchell featured in Willoughby Mosman’s 19-point win over the Southern Power in the Youth Girls Division One league. Meanwhile at North Narrabeen Reserve, fellow state representative, Emily Hurley featured in Kellyville Rouse Hill’s 10-point win over the Pittwater Tigers. In the last time the Magpies played against the Tigers, Hurley was named second best.

In the first semi-final of the AFL North Coast Women’s league, Ahlani Eddy’s Sawtell Toormina Saints claimed a 41-point win over the Port Macquarie Magpies. The Saints now go straight through to the grand final, with Port Macquarie and Coffs Breakers to play off for a spot on the big stage this week.

Over in the AFL Broken Hill league, Melisa Keenan kicked three of her side’s five goals in South Football Club’s 35-point win over West Football Club. Consequently, she was named third best with fellow state representative, Eliza Cumming going one better. Cumming was named second best on the day, which is the eighth time she has appeared in the best from 10 games.

Murray Bushrangers star, Eloise Ashley-Cooper continued her wonderful season for Finley, kicking three of her side’s five goals against Shepparton Notre. Ashley-Cooper was named also best afield for her side, which is the fourth time she has been named best-on-ground from nine games. The Cats’ 33-point win earns them a spot in the Grand Final this week against Shepparton United.

Several hours of travel “worth it” for sport fanatic, Julia Harvey

MURRAY Bushrangers midfielder Julia Harvey travels up to three hours to get to a football training session or game.

Tie this in with two nights of netball training, a night of football training, a netball and football game on the weekend, as well as basketball commitments in summer, and you have one dedicated athlete. Behind every dedicated athlete is a dedicated family, and Harvey’s family pushes through the struggles of travelling to help her enjoy playing the sports she loves.

“We’re used to it now,” Harvey said. “We’ve had three years of travelling around with all different sports but some weeks it can be pretty hard. You get to the end of the week at school and you’re absolutely exhausted but it’s all worth it.”

Harvey began playing with the Murray Bushrangers in the second year of the program, unaware of the opportunity that girls had to play footy at a representative level. She admits that being selected was something she never saw coming.

“I never thought it was even possible,” Harvey said. “I used to always see the boys do it and think this is so amazing why haven’t the girls got that? “When I got asked, I was like ‘oh my god there’s actually a girls version’. “I jumped at the opportunity, I thought it was amazing.”

The small 15 year-old arrived at the Bushrangers excited but also slightly intimidated, as she was playing with and against some of the best female footballers in the state. Now in her final year of the program, Harvey reflects on the club’s amazing progression from struggling with numbers to overflowing with them.

“I was probably one of the youngest there so it was pretty hard at the start,” she said. “We barely got a team together and we used to get beaten by a lot so it was pretty tough at the start but it’s just grown so much since then.”

The Bushrangers went undefeated in 2017 and won three games this year but for Harvey, the enjoyment of the program comes from making new friends.

“I made so many friends, this year especially, like Claudia McKimmie and Liv Barber,” the Murray midfielder said. “There’s so many girls here that I didn’t know until I played footy and I’ve created amazing friendships just from a couple of weeks playing footy. I reckon that’s probably the best thing to take away.”

Among three sports, Harvey is also in the midst of Year 12 studies, with an aim to fulfill her childhood ambition of being a physical education teacher. The 18 year-old says her sporting journey has helped her to balance her impressive array of commitments.

“I suppose where I’ve grown up playing so many sports, I’ve probably learnt to manage my time well, especially with school,” Harvey said. “I try to work hard at school and so I can have time outside of school to focus on sport.”

She now has another sport commitment to focus on, as she has been named in the Vic Country squad for the upcoming AFL Women’s Under 18 National Championships.

With a full pathway in place for females to achieve their footballing dreams, Harvey encourages all young girls to join a program like the Murray Bushrangers.

“Make the most of it,” she said. “It’s such an amazing program. Like I said, you make so many friends and even footy wise too, you learn so much. I’d just take everything in because my time’s already come to an end and it’s gone so quick.”

Season reviews: TAC Cup Girls – Murray Bushrangers

AFTER a positive start to their TAC Cup Girls campaign, the Murray Bushrangers fell away late, losing their last five games of the season. They came out firing, claiming some big wins against the Pioneers and Cannons but struggled to keep that momentum going for the rest of the season.

Position: 7th
Win-loss: 3-5-1
Percentage: 101.72%

Results:

R1: defeated Calder Cannons by 46 points
R2: defeated Bendigo Pioneers by 40 points
R3: drew with Gippsland Power
R4: defeated Western Jets by 25 points
R5: lost to Geelong Falcons by 9 points
R6: lost to Sandringham Dragons by 15 points
R7: lost to Greater Western Victoria Rebels by 6 points
R8: lost to Eastern Rangers by 46 points
R9: lost to Northern Knights by 30 points

Key players:

Rebecca Webster: Webster was a key player for the Bushrangers, providing good leadership and demonstrating her silky skills. The AFLW Academy player was a real standout with her ability to create space and shrug tackles. She was not afraid to go in hard and win the footy and was influential around the stoppages. Webster provided good run and carry across the ground and was a real play maker, creating plenty of thrusts forward to help create scoring opportunities for her teammates. She also worked hard down back providing good run out of defence and applying plenty of physical pressure through laying strong tackles on her opponents. Due to her skill and footy smarts, Webster was named in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Year after receiving four nominations throughout the season for the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week. The talented midfielder continued to impress with her clean hands in congestion and ability to hit players on the lead.

Eloise Ashley-Cooper: Ashley-Cooper was a real workhorse down in defence for Murray with her ability to take impressive intercept marks and impose herself on the contest. She tackled hard throughout the season and was a real general down back, controlling the flow down in defence. Her slick hands were invaluable for the Bushrangers as she helped to get them out of trouble in defence and wasn’t afraid to take on the opposition. Ashley-Cooper’s run and carry was also a great asset for the Bushrangers as she helped to open up the play for her teammates. Her impressive footy smarts won her two nominations in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week and just narrowly missed the AFL Draft Central Team of the Year, instead named in the second team for hard work and class down back.

Olivia Barber: Barber was Murray’s leading goal kicker for the season, slotting seven goals. She was a key player for the Bushrangers with her ability to lead up at the footy and create good forward pressure by laying strong tackles and trapping the ball inside 50. The youngster has been a real revelation, displaying her footy smarts and composure under pressure, and booted two goals for Vic Country in the Under 16s win over NSW/ACT on the weekend.

Tamara Smith: She was a clear standout throughout the season, showcasing her ability to hit the packs hard and use her skills to extract the footy out of stoppages. Smith was creative with ball in hand and more importantly showed great composure when under pressure. The talented midfielder competed hard throughout the season and starred with her dash across the ground. Her ability to create forward bursts was important for the Bushrangers as her kicks into the 50 and tackling pressure added even more forward momentum for her side.  Smith was included in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Year after being named in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week three times, credit to her classy use of the footy.

Grace Egan: Egan was another star down back for Murray, showcasing her marking talent and hunger to win the footy. She never backed away from a contest and used her quick hands to work the ball out of defence and move the footy forward. Egan imposed herself on the contest, laying strong bone-crunching tackles and being a real workhorse. Throughout the season, she displayed her running power with her ability to rebound off the defensive 50 and create play up ahead for her teammates. Credit to her good year she was named in the AFL Draft Central Team of the Week three times.

Julia Harvey: The small midfielder/forward always caused headaches for opposition sides, buzzing around the field and winning plenty of the football when at the coal face. She would go forward and hurt opponents on the scoreboard, having good goal sense, and a knack for getting into the right positions to score. One of a number of players who was named in the Vic Country squad, she will look to provide good speed and a hard edge to the team up forward. Booted six goals in the 2018 TAC Cup season.

Millie Brown: The bottom-age AFLW Academy member managed eight games and got better as the season went on, named among the best in her final three matches. In the absence of a number of others including Webster and Egan at various times in the final few rounds, Brown provided the Bushrangers forwards with a penetrating kick from midfield, and good strength when in defence. With a year still remaining at TAC Cup level, she is a player who will be looked upon to step up in 2019.

Season summary: 

The Murray Bushrangers would not have expected to finish seventh in the ladder in 2018, but the main focus of development has been fulfilled. Many Bushrangers players have developed in leaps and bounds, and the team has strong players across every position on the ground. From Julia Harvey in the midfield to Grace Egan in defence to Olivia Barber in the forward line, Murray had options all over the ground. With many top-age players moving on from the program, it allows younger players such as Chelsea Hargreaves, Millie Brown, Kate Adams and Claudia McKimmie to step up in 2019.

Victorian Under 16s Girls prepare for National Championships

VICTORIA’S top Under 16s footballers from the TAC Cup Girls competition will converge on country venues this weekend in a couple of matches to test themselves against the best from other states. Vic Metro takes on South Australia in Horsham on Sunday, while Vic Country heads to the border to face NSW/ACT in Albury. The following week, Vic Metro will face off against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in a curtain raiser to the Under 18 Girls’ sides. For those wondering, the Under 16s are made up of players born in 2002 and are not eligible to be drafted until 2020.

Vic Metro squad:

NoNameHtDOBTAC Region
1Olivia Meagher15110/12/02Eastern Ranges
2Mietta Kendall1543/9/02Eastern Ranges
3Taylah Morton15723/7/02Oakleigh Chargers
4Leah Spargo15728/1/02Western Jets
5Mary Daw15911/3/02Western Jets
6Abigail Bennett16018/10/02Northern Knights
7Jessica Fitzgerald1618/3/02Northern Knights
8Bella Eddey16311/2/02Sandringham Dragons
9Winnie Laing16425/5/02Sandringham Dragons
10Ashleigh Snow15623/10/02Northern Knights
11Eliza McNamara16619/4/02Sandringham Dragons
12Tarni Brown16626/3/02Eastern Ranges
13Alice Burke1683/10/02Sandringham Dragons
15Mimi Hill1674/10/02Oakleigh Chargers
16Alice O’Loughlin1698/7/02Oakleigh Chargers
17Alisa Magri17019/3/02Calder Cannons
18Amber Micallef17021/2/02Oakleigh Chargers
19Sarah Hartwig17312/4/02Sandringham Dragons
20Ellie McKenzie17417/10/02Northern Knights
21Tamsin Crook1763/10/02Calder Cannons
22Isabelle Pritchard1768/3/02Western Jets
23Jess Grace17625/12/02Eastern Ranges
24Alyssa Bannan17713/4/02Northern Knights
25Isabel Young17913/7/02Calder Cannons

Some names to watch:

Isabelle Pritchard
Key Position Defender | 176cm | Western Jets

Strong overhead, great leader and rarely beaten one-on-one. Her game knowledge and awareness is ahead of her years. A standout performer this season for the Jets.

Ellie McKenzie
Tall Utility | 174cm | Northern Knights

Unbelievable impact so far this season, named in the best every game she played. Can play forward, midfield or back, and is strong in the air. Sister of Vic Metro boys’ representative, Tom. Strong in the air, can kick goals at will, shown by her huge day out against Bendigo Pioneers.

Alyssa Bannan
Key Position Forward | 175cm | Northern Knights

Lit up Beaconsfield earlier in the year with three goals in three minutes and provides a good target up forward. Mobile tall who can kick goals and very few players her height are quicker once she gets goal side.

Sarah Hartwig
Key Position Defender | 173cm | Sandringham Dragons

Good one-on-one defender, quick on the lead to spoil and provides good rebounds out of the back half. Will create a strong 1-2 partnership with Pritchard in the back half.

Alice Burke
General Defender | 168cm | Sandringham Dragons

A good user of the footy, can play up the ground but is really settled in the back half. Daughter of St Kilda champion, Nathan. Crossed over from soccer and has been a revelation at the Dragons.

Abigail Bennett
Small Forward | 160cm | Northern Knights

Another Knights player who has had some impressive moments at half-forward. Can push into the midfield as well.

Tarni Brown
General Forward | 166cm | Eastern Ranges

Very raw, but clearly talented. Has a very nice sidestep and can create something out of nothing. Daughter of Gavin and sister to Callum and Tyler.

Olivia Meagher
Small Forward/Midfielder | 151cm | Eastern Ranges

Seemed to get better as the season went on, plays a link-up role at half-forward, and can kick goals or win the footy through the midfield.

Mimi Hill
Outside Midfielder | 167cm | Oakleigh Chargers

Winger who provides good run in transition and played some impressive games throughout the season, especially in the absence of the Chargers top-age midfielders.

Jess Fitzgerald
Small Utility | 161cm | Northern Knights

Tends to play forward, but can play through midfield as well. A creative player who can kick goals from tight angles.

Winnie Laing
Inside Midfielder | 164cm | Sandringham Dragons

As tough as they come on the inside, loves the contest and does not take a backwards step.

Bella Eddey
General Forward | 163cm | Sandringham Dragons

Another creative forward who is good in the air or at ground level and just got better as the season went on.

Alice O’Loughlin
General Forward | 169cm | Oakleigh Chargers

Starred late in the season at half-forward and can push up the ground as well. Creative and a good user of the football going inside 50.

Ashleigh Snow
Small Defender | 156cm | Northern Knights

Was one of the Knights’ best in the grand final and plays taller than her 156cm. Good overhead and creates some great drive out of defence.

Alisa Magri
Tall Forward | 170cm | Calder Cannons

Was a mainstay of the Cannons forward line this season and managed to get on the end of a few goals throughout. Another tall target inside 50 for Metro.

Eliza McNamara
Inside Midfielder | 166cm | Sandringham Dragons

Had a blistering start to the season and had the ball on a string early. A crucial part of the inside midfield at the Dragons, she showed good strength and an ability to move out of traffic.

Vic Country squad:

NoNameDOBHtTAC Region
1Jerusha Devarakonda3/3/02158Geelong Falcons
2Leila Raymond9/3/02158Gippsland Power
3Holly Andrews15/8/02160Gippsland Power
4Elizabeth Snell14/3/02161Bendigo Pioneers
5Megan Fitzsimon10/8/02162Gippsland Power
6Renee Saulitis14/8/02163GWV Rebels
7Jemma Finning19/3/02165Bendigo Pioneers
8Kate Adams15/3/02165Murray Bushrangers
9Emily Nicholson19/3/02165Murray Bushrangers
10Abbey Jordan8/9/02165Dandenong Stingrays
11Brooke Hards19/7/02166Bendigo Pioneers
12Tyanna Smith29/10/02166Dandenong Stingrays
13Chloe Leonard1/2/02167GWV Rebels
15Chandra Abrahams24/3/02169Gippsland Power
16Sharmaine Reilly8/11/02170Bendigo Pioneers
17Sophie Milsome23/4/02172Geelong Falcons
18Zoe Hill13/5/02173Dandenong Stingrays
19Matilda Van Berkel6/9/02174Gippsland Power
20Stephanie Glover11/11/02176GWV Rebels
21Isabella Robson26/4/02176GWV Rebels
22Renee Tierney23/5/02168Geelong Falcons
23Isabella Simmons19/4/02181GWV Rebels
24Olivia Barber14/7/02184Murray Bushrangers
25Maggie Caris21/12/02188GWV Rebels

Renee Tierney
Tall Forward | 168cm | Geelong Falcons

Has had a really consistent season for the Falcons. Good overhead, booted a bag of goals against Oakleigh at Warrawee Park earlier in the season.

Jemma Finning
Balanced Midfielder | 165cm | Bendigo Pioneers

After the two top-age girls in Megan Williamson and Kodi Jacques, Finning was one of the more consistent midfielders at the Pioneers, regularly named in the best.

Brooke Hards
General Defender | 166cm | Bendigo Pioneers

A rebounding defender who can play forward, Hards is good in the air and reads the play well.

Renee Saulitis
Small Forward | 163cm | GWV Rebels

Talented small forward who can kick some great goals from tight angles. Very quick and can pounce on a spillage from a marking contest.

Isabella Simmons
Key Position Forward | 181cm | GWV Rebels

Tall target up forward who pushes up the ground and provides a contest. Raw but has shown some good signs.

Zoe Hill
Key Position Defender | 173cm | Dandenong Stingrays

One of the more consistent 15-16 year-old defenders in the league. Worked well with Lucy Cripps to ensure the Stingrays had good defensive strength in the air.

Olivia Barber
Ruck/Key Position Forward | 184cm | Murray Bushrangers

Rotated between ruck and key forward and was named in the Bushrangers best a number of times. Could rotate with Maggie Caris through the ruck or up forward.

Chandra Abrahams
Tall Utility | 169cm | Gippsland Power

Has played a mixture of forward and back, and while the consistency is still building, she has tricks that not many players have, such as a penetrating kick from 50m on the run from a couple of steps.

Kate Adams
General Forward | 165cm | Murray Bushrangers

Buzzes around the forward line and can push up into the midfield. Fairly clean and clearly talented, will be a player to watch at the Bushies over the next couple of years.

Maggie Caris
Ruck | 188cm | GWV Rebels

With her sister Rene in the AFLW Academy, Maggie followed her into the Rebels program and looked good in the final game of the season against Oakleigh. Already 188cm, Caris will likely play ruck, but could be tried in key position positions as well.

Tyanna Smith
Balanced Midfielder | 166cm | Dandenong Stingrays

Another player who seemed to get better as the season went on, Smith played through the midfield and won her own ball as well as created run in transition.

Jerusha Devarakonda
Small Defender | 158cm | Geelong Falcons

Raw, but talented defender who pushed up to the wing for the Falcons. Got involved a number of times in the grand final and has plenty of scope for the future. Quick and fierce.

Stephanie Glover
Key Position Utility | 176cm | GWV Rebels

Impressed down back, but also showed she could go forward and kick a goal for the Rebels. Good overhead and nimble, she provides plenty of rebound out of the back half.

Holly Andrews
Outside Midfielder/Small Forward | 160cm | Gippsland Power

Played all nine games this season and was named among the best a couple of times for the Power. Had some nice moments within games.

Chloe Leonard
General Forward | 167cm | GWV Rebels

Booted four goals in eight games, including two against Calder Cannons. Was named in the Rebels’ best a number of times and provided a target inside 50.

Emily Nicholson
General Defender | 165cm | Murray Bushrangers

Played every game this season for the Bushrangers and became a regular in the back six. She was named among the best on a couple of occasions.

U16 Fixtures:

June 10 – Vic Metro vs. South Australia in Horsham & Vic Country vs. NSW/ACT in Albury
June 16 – Vic Country vs Vic Metro at GMHBA Stadium, Geelong

From boys footy to Bushrangers: Webster makes perfect transition

MURRAY Bushrangers midfielder, Rebecca Webster grew up with footy in her veins.

As a youngster, Webster would run out in an oversized Auskick jumper and have a kick around with her brother’s team. She admits that her brother, a year her senior, fuelled the competitive fire from within, to play Aussie Rules football.

“I always wanted to be better than him (her brother) and I’ve just gone through the ranks of the boys to 14s, and then all through Youth Girls footy and got here now, end of the journey for the TAC (Cup Girls),” Webster said.

Although Webster’s TAC Cup Girls journey was daunting at first, she is impressed with the program’s progression.

“I remember rocking up to training in Kialla for the first time and I was so scared because I never played footy with the girls before,” Webster said. “I was absolutely petrified. “But I don’t think we had many people to get not selected. “We were combined with Bendigo but you can see how much it’s grown. “It’s pretty exciting.”

Like many TAC Cup Girls players, Webster tried her hand at many different sports when she was younger, but felt her passion for footy shone through.

“I just felt like I gelled a lot more with footy,” Webster said. “I was athletic and stuff but I wasn’t really passionate for the other games. “When I was out on the field I just loved it and because I gelled with the boys and everyone there and just felt like home playing footy.”

Playing with the boys was something Webster had become accustomed to at that point, having roughed it up with them on the field from Auskick to under 14s. But when she was selected for the Murray Bushrangers, she discovered a whole new world of football.

“I grew up all my life playing with boys until I was about 14 where I had to play with the girls so it was very, very different,” Webster said. “I never knew what to expect but I’ve definitely adapted over the years and it’s been a great journey. “To be able to connect with the other girls and see how they’ve come about has been really cool.”

Although her TAC Cup Girls journey has ended, Webster still has a busy schedule of football ahead of her, featuring in the upcoming AFL Women’s National Under 18 Championships on the Gold Coast.

“It’s going to be a ripper,” Webster said. “We played up there last year so [I have] got pretty high expectations again but should be good though.”

Webster has also been selected to play in Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s for Melbourne Uni, in what is shaping to be an incredibly bright future for the talented midfielder.

Travel just part of the package for footy fanatic Tamara Smith

TRAVELLING hours on end to training and matches might be tolling for most teenagers, but for Tamara Smith, she is accepting of the fact that success does not come without sacrifice.

The Murray Bushrangers midfielder has enjoyed a good season in the TAC Cup Girls competition, named the Bushrangers’ best in their final two games, following on from a strong finish to the year. The 17 year-old Mooroopna product is less than a month away from turning 18, is studying Year 12 and travels at least two hours return for any football commitment.

“My home club’s an hour away from where I live,” Smith said. “So that’s just local, so training is an hour there and back, and then games are a minimum an hour away. “Then Bushies is an hour and a half travel, so it’s heaps, but your parents are committed and you’re committed, and it’s really worth it.”

That hour and a half travel does not include away games in the TAC Cup Girls competition, including a round eight trek to Warrawee Park in Oakleigh. It is a tiring lifestyle, especially for someone in the final year of their school studies and trying to source income and play out their dream.

“It’s pretty tough, I don’t live in the town I go to school in,” Smith said. “So I travel there every day and then there’s footy, trying to get a part-time job and turning 18 – it’s all happening all at once. “You’ve just got to learn to work around it because footy’s your life. “It just never stops. “Once you’re committed, you’re committed so you just find a way.”

So what made the talented midfielder choose football?

“I have a very big family,” Smith said. “I have six brothers and my parents ran Auskick since I was in about Prep, so I was kind of straight into footy. “I did Auskick until I was about 12, and then I started playing with the boys for four years, and then when I stopped I had to go find a girls competition and then it all grew from there, and here I am playing for Murray Bushrangers.”

Smith said she had enjoyed the extra four rounds of the TAC Cup Girls competition, which despite not ending the way the Bushrangers had hoped after an unbeaten season last year, still gave the players plenty to enjoy throughout the season.

“I’m really happy with the longer season, you get to verse more of a variety of teams and kind of see what works well with your teammates and how they play under different conditions and things like that, so I really enjoyed that,” she said.

There has also been a noticeable improvement in the standard as a whole at both TAC Cup Girls, and local level as more players flock to the competition in the hope of living out their dream now the AFL Women’s is a reality.

“Absolutely [it’s improved], I remember when I first started playing local footy and there was like five teams and they weren’t very strong,” Smith said. “You showed up and you got a game. “Now you pick a side for the week and you’ve got your better players and the standard has just grown huge, and the game has grown – it’s incredible.”

Now Smith has her sights set on the National Under 18 Championships, with preparation beginning on Sunday – just one day after the TAC Cup Girls Grand Final – with all the Victorian players training together at Ikon Park, before a second training session at Windy Hill on June 3.

“[I’m] nervous but excited,” Smith said. “I’m excited for the next step, and to play against even more talented girls, I can develop my own skills and learn how to hold my own.”

Smith rated her leadership and ability to be clean with the ball as her strengths, while aiming to improve kicking on her opposite foot as well as greater composure with ball in hand and not blazing away.

She hopes continued improvement can help her remain in the spotlight in order for her to chase her dream, one that has only become a reality in the past few years.

“AFL has been my dream since I was a little girl, so for it to be a real opportunity, I just want to go for it,” Smith said. No doubt many in Mooroopna will keep a keen eye on her progress.