Squads featuring some of Victoria’s best Under 15 multicultural and Indigenous female talent are preparing to head north next week to compete in the 2017 AFL Female Diversity Championships. Mitch Wynd reports.
Held in Byron Bay, the 2017 AFL Female Diversity Championships will see over 200 participants from across the county come together to compete for the national title.
With the next AFLW Draft looming later this month, a host of Victoria’s best multicultural and Indigenous female players are ready to put their best foot forward as they prepare to represent their state and cultural heritage.
Kickstart coach Natalie Plane knows exactly what it takes to reach AFLW level. The 21-year-old plays for Carlton and is excited to see her squad come together.
“We’ve got some really good, talented young players who could be future AFLW stars,” she said.
“It’s my first year as the Kickstart coach, so I’m pretty stoked, as are the rest of the team, to be a part of it.”
Following a highly successful month of identification trials, Plane said she is eager to lead some of the most talent Indigenous players from both metropolitan and regional Victoria.
“It’s been a bit of a journey to narrow it down to the final squad,” she said.
“First we conducted regional trials around the state to find the best players, then we held a high-performance day where the girls came in and did some testing.
“From there we shortened the squad down and went away to Healesville last month where the Kickstart and All Nations squads played against each other, which gave us a better indication of what our final squads would look like.”
Fellow state representative coach, Sabrin Nyawela, is looking forward to lead a talented All Nations team representing over 11 different multicultural backgrounds.
“In our playing squad, we’ve got girls from pretty much all around the globe. We’ve got girls from South Africa, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Malaysia, as well as girls born overseas who have come to Australia for a better life,” she said.
“They’ve found a common interest in their love of footy.”
For Nyawela and the All Nations team, while competing and playing football to the best of their ability is important, other factors off the field are just as crucial.
“We really emphasised to the girls that it wasn’t all about the talent that they had, but also stuff that’s more off-field like leadership qualities, and how well they all work as a team off the field.”
When asked what they were looking forward to most about the championships, both coaches were excited to see what their squads had to offer.
“I’m certainly looking forward to getting to know the girls more and to see them display their talent on a national level,” Plane said.
“It’s my first time coaching so there will be a lot of new stuff for all of us to experience, but I’m excited to see how we’ll go and how the team will connect together and play out there.”
“I’m really excited for Victoria to show a glimpse of the multicultural talent we have here,” Nyawela said.
“To watch these girls develop on and off the field has been great… these girls are the next generation of AFLW players, so I really want them to make the most of this opportunity.”
The AFL Female Diversity Championships will kick off on Monday October 9 and continue until October 13.