Story thanks to Geordie Cowan, Whittlesea Leader.
Photo: Alex Coppel
THE Northern Knights have taken a long-term view for their girls football program, aiming to become a target destination for future young stars.
Beyond creating a squad for the inaugural TAC Cup Girls competition, with the team’s first fixture this weekend, the club wants to consolidate its position.
“We looked into it last year and had it in our minds to run a girls program across the season,” talent manager Rhy Gieschen said.
“We thought it was a good opportunity to not only have an under-18 squad, but also a development squad for girls aged 14 or 15.”
A strong link with Carlton has proved beneficial, with the first five training sessions for both squads held at Ikon Park.
“For them to use an AFL facility and train in that environment automatically gave the program a real professional feel and the girls could get excited about what was to come in the program,” Gieschen said.
Carlton AFL Women’s coach Damien Keeping attended those sessions and star Blue Rebecca Privitelli is the Knights’ head coach.
“She is only 22 but has a lot of coaching experience through AFL Victoria and the Northern Football League,” Gieschen said.
“She also coached with the Calder Cannons last year.”
The 35 players in the TAC Cup squad and a further 33 in the development squad, have mostly come from the Northern or Yarra Junior leagues, although some have jumped across from basketball.
Gieschen said the club had “piggy backed” some of the excitement garnered from the AFL Women’s competition, using it to target quality athletes who had not tried the sport before.
He said the Knights had high hopes for top-age players Maddy Guerin (Fitzroy) and Lily Brancatisano (Laurimar), and “some others are really promising”.
“We know that the program’s in its embryonic stage and girls skills development is still a priority,” he said.
The competition will see each TAC Cup team play five matches, with the ladder-leader at the end awarded the premiership