2021 VFLW season preview: Port Melbourne

PORT Melbourne enters its inaugural Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s campaign with high hopes, marking a steep rise in a new venture for the club with such rich history. The Borough have taken on Richmond’s VFLW license for 2021 after the Tigers opted out of fielding a side in the revamped reserves-like competition.

It means Port will have access to Richmond AFLW players who miss out on senior action throughout the season, forming a strong alliance despite remaining a standalone entity. Tigers players will mix with Port Melbourne-listed talent, while prospects from the Bendigo region and NAB League Girls competition will also be given opportunities to mix their time among the concurrent competitions.

Inaugural VFLW head coach Lachlan Harris will take the reigns having already gained vast experience in female footballing circles, and promises to nurture a real growth mindset in the squad. With core development and technical skills among the club’s key focus areas in preseason, expect the Borough to bring an exciting transition style of play to the fore in 2021.

Port has announced the signings of 16 players to its list, bringing a mixed bag of styles and experience levels to the group. Amon them is 20-year-old Tara Jasper, who was the club’s maiden signing, and brings a sense of familiarity to the red and blue having been named co-captain for the scrapped 2020 season.

Speaking of familiarity, Belinda Ousley returns to the club as a playing assistant to Harris having already established her name at the Borough. She will help nurture the likes of Nayley Borg, Isabella Stutt, Lucy De Gleria Cade, and Sabrine Navarro, all of whom are young talents looking to grow at the next level.

Melissa Kuys looms as arguably the biggest name to put pen to paper for Port, bringing experience from her time at Collingwood and St Kilda in the AFLW. Another former elite level player in Bridie Kennedy has also joined, adding versatility in the tall department and to the understanding of standards required to make the grade.

Some valuable VFLW-listed talent will also don the red and blue, with defender Lisa Davie and Courteney Bromage good gets from Richmond’s former program. The likes of ruck Abbey Tanner, Holly Bailey, and Pip Peschke are well versed in the competition too and join as potentially key members of the squad.

The 24-year-old Katrina Tinson was the club’s first external signing having crossed from East Fremantle in the WAFLW, slotting straight into the midfield brigade. Caelah Stanley was another interstate talent to make the move to Port, signing from North Shore and promising to add some dash from defence. Murray Bushrangers graduate Sophie Locke is another exciting coup, also set to flourish in the backline.

The Borough were set to face Geelong in a practice match on February 13, but the clash was postponed due to COVID-19 regulations. The season proper is poised to commence on the weekend of February 27-28, though no official fixture has been released.

Image Credit: Port Melbourne FC

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