Tag: aflw feature

Talented forward Hyde made makes midfield move

MODELLING her game off Collingwood excitement machine Jamie Elliott, Western Australia product Mikayla Hyde draws a lot of similarities between the way she plies her trade on the footy field and that of Elliott. Having pushed into the midfield this year, Hyde noted the evolution of her game from being a forward to a player that can rotate through and have an influence.

“I’ve always been a Jamie Elliott fan. When I watched him I always saw that he was playing forward, before AFLW was even a thing I was always like ‘I want to kick goals like he did’. And then it’s actually funny he moved into the midfield this year, for Collingwood and I also played midfield mostly this year for Swan Districts,” Hyde said.

Drawing inspiration from Elliott from a men’s footy perspective, Hyde also highlighted the work of former Calder Cannons star and current St Kilda player Georgia Patrikios who is renowned for her cleanliness, coverage of the ground and sheer star power.

“In the female side of things probably a player like Georgia Patrikios. I think she is so clean and is a pretty tough midfielder as well. I would like to play exactly like her, I do like to model my game around someone like her.”

Dissimilar to her twin sister Brianna who supports Richmond, Hyde has been a lifelong Pies fan, so much so she made the trek over to the MCG for the 2018 Grand Final between Collingwood and her home state side, West Coast Eagles. Not getting the desired outcome – a Collingwood premiership – the youngster not only had to deal with the loss but so too the venture home.

“Went to the grand final in 2018 and I can confirm that I did lose a few tears after we lost,” Hyde admitted. “Fly over there and then fly home with all the Eagles supporters but we still wore Collingwood stuff because you know, we’re loyal.”

In terms of her own journey, Hyde made mention that it was the influence of her father and brothers that really prompted her love affair with the game and made her hungry to take the field.

“Probably mostly to do with dad, he’s a Collingwood supporter and so am I and we kind of just grew up watching it with him,” she explained. “Both our brothers played footy and we kind of watched them. We didn’t play until about Year 6 in our primary school team with the boys. And then after that we wanted to keep playing but mum wouldn’t let us because we didn’t know there was girls teams out there, and eventually we found girls teams and joined Swan Districts.”

“I played school footy and that led to like an All-Stars game, and we were on the Swan Districts side because that was the closest WAFL club to our house. Then from there the girls that were coaching actually played for Swans and then invited us to come down to the youth girls team,” Hyde said.

When speaking about the moment that she was identified and chosen to join the ranks at Swan Districts, Hyde reminisced on how important it was for her to be able to take the footy field with a group of girls and really get an opportunity to show what she is made of.

“Yeah, it was so good, I was with Mikayla Bowen at the same time, and we wanted to play for so long and mum just kept saying no, she wouldn’t let us play with the boys. So to know it was an actual girls team and actually play was so cool.”

Having grown up watching a lot of footy, Hyde identified that one of her most damaging attributes on the footy field is her ability to read the play and see the patterns unfold. When it comes to areas to improve on, the 18-year-old wants to “develop (her) contested ball on the floor, just being a little bit cleaner”.

Representing Western Australia in 2019, Hyde touched on what an amazing experience it was and the stark differences between playing in that competition and the WAFL Women’s, having to contend with much bigger bodies.

“Yeah it was insane, and the girls that you play with make it even better. When you’re over there you meet girls from eastern states, and that’s even cooler too, I’ve got so many mates up in Queensland and in Victoria. Such a good experience overall.”

“I think it is just body size that you verse, like we verse some pretty big girls. I’m not a huge human as it is,” she joked. “So versing the huge girls in the WAFLW, avoiding contact is harder to take but I got used to it, in the second year of league I got used to the harder hits where at states you can kind of use it to be stronger on the field and take on people and take on tackles.”

In her short career so far, Hyde has had some pretty momentous occasions, not only playing in a grand final but winning the premiership and some added silverware in the form of a best on ground.

“Probably 2017 when Swan Districts went back-to-back to back on the same day, our youth girls, reserves and league had all won the premiership and then I snagged best on ground so I was stoked with that,” she said. “But to win a premiership was good.”

“I was actually really surprised because the microphone cut out, and then someone must have heard it was my name and my mates were trying to tell me get up, and I was like no way, I was not expecting it at all but it was cool.”

Swan Districts has been a part of Hyde’s life for a long time, with the youngster crediting the work of the club for ensuring that women’s football is viable for all girls through their inclusivity and commitment to the program.

“I think we’re such a tight unit like from what people see, externally it’s nothing to what is in between the four walls like, especially we’re the only club in – definitely in WA that has their own female change rooms like the WAFL club. So that just shows that our clubs really care for our females. All of our coaches are always so supportive and we’re a really diverse club as well, we accept everyone,” she explained.

In terms of coaches and people at the club who have had an influence on the 18-year-old, it was hard for her to go past Kara Antonio, crediting the Fremantle captain for her progression, confidence to take the game on and general development as a player.

“Definitely Kara Antonio last year at least, really helped like guided me through on how I could make it all the way up and she still to this day has always been there for me and stuff like that so I’d definitely say Kara Antonio.”

A day out from the draft, Hyde hopes to “end up on an AFLW list” stating that “anyone that would take me I will be there”.

Resilient Anderson works her way to the top

RENOWNED for her ability to light up the footy field with her explosive speed and fancy footwork, West Australian product Nyra Anderson boasts an exceptional story of resilience and hard work hailing from a rural town and working her way up through the ranks to follow her love for football.

A very proud Indigenous woman, Anderson sees her football as an opportunity to encourage other young Aboriginal women in particular, to follow in her footsteps and not to be afraid, instead jump on each opportunity that comes their way.

“I grew up in probably a real low, disadvantaged community,” she said. “So, opportunities what I’m getting hopefully girls have the opportunity to do exactly what I’m doing. “I really try and get that out publicly, as much as I can.”

Anderson expressed her desire to use her platform as a footballer to be a face for the Indigenous community and create more pathways for girls to succeed.

“Just where the place I grew up was just girls didn’t really have a pathway was just mainly boys so now that we have a pathway, I want girls to take every opportunity,” she said. “Even if it is not football. “Even if it is just going to school, getting help through that or getting your L’s like getting a job or something like that. “Just girls take on every opportunity that they can, take the help, don’t be scared.”

Growing up in a rural town, Anderson did not have a lot of opportunities to ply her trade on the footy field, or if she did, she had to compete with the boys. But that did not stop the 18-year-old who first picked up the footy at a very young age as her family fostered her love for the game.

“It’s all I ever really wanted when I was a kid,” Anderson said. “My dad just gave me a footy and then started playing when I was little. “When I was about four or three, and then grew up. “Couldn’t really afford to play in any clubs, so I just played school footy with all the boys and then got to Year 7 and saved up and then I joined the state team and made the state team.”

Still at such a young age, Anderson has impressed across a wealth of different leagues highlighting just how damaging she can be on the footy field and her ability to not be overawed by the bigger bodies.

“In Year 8 or Year 9 I joined Swan Districts, so it was pretty good,” she said. “Then tried out for state when I was like 12 to 16 and then, I got train on when I was 13 and then the next years I just made it through all the way. “Pretty much just where I am now, playing League when I was 16. “And now, I’m 18.”

Swan Districts has played a significant role in Anderson’s football development with the youngster crediting their caring nature as a focal point throughout her time with the club.

“It’s been pretty good yeah I love how it’s so family orientated,” she said. “They’re a really down to earth club and understand any financial issues, family issues that we have so it’s pretty good.”

An incredibly talented young player, Anderson plied her trade at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships last year, donning the Western Australia guernsey to not only showcase her football smarts but so too leadership qualities despite only being 17.

“It was a really good experience for my leadership and to work on my game and then just try to get drafted really,” she said.

Not only did Anderson get the opportunity to play for Western Australia, but so too the chance to play in Queensland and most exciting of the lot, run out on Metricon Stadium, something her family touted as “inspirational”.

“It was good, it was a good experience because for kids like me, from a really like remote community it really was a really good experience to tell my family, to tell my friends. So, I loved that,” she said.

With speed to burn Anderson pegs fitness as an area she hopes to improve on before getting drafted while her strengths lie in her ability to read the play and contest in one on one situations given her ability to “put [her] head over the ball and get it out”.

“Really first just to make AFLW and then give back to my community as much as I can because they really need it,” Anderson said. “I’m pretty versatile wherever the coach puts me and now it’s just, I adjust to wherever I am and play to my ability really.”

Anderson has also spent time with Fremantle, training with the midfield group and honing in her craft alongside some notable names in the AFLW world, something she hopes might become a reality one day soon.

“It was a good experience like a taste of AFL was at my fingertips so I’m hoping for the best in the future,” she said.

With the AFL Women’s Draft around the corner, Anderson has proven she has the skillset to be a handy inclusion in any side.

AFLW premiership race opinion: What were the options?

UNFORTUNATELY the hasty end to what has been a terrific AFL Women’s season through a COVID-19 pandemic that no one prior to the season could have seen coming, has forced the league to scrap an end result from the books and leave 2020 as a blank line. In this AFL Women’s feature, we take a look at the options that were on the table and the reasoning behind each one.

Option 1 – No premier awarded

This option was the one ultimately chosen by the league in fairness to the four competitors left. The league was left in a lose-lose situation with both Conference leaders having a right to demand the title in different ways, and even the other two remaining finalists also having a stake in the say. When we say they were left in a lose-lose, had they opted for the one-off Grand Final then they would have been hounded by fans of the second placed clubs who had deserved to reach the finals that were originally put on the table. If they had opted for the original finals series, then it was heartbreak for the two fourth placed teams remaining in the running, especially Collingwood who had knocked off two of the teams quite convincingly that had made it in a tough draw that would have seen them face two sides – Geelong and St Kilda – who in fairness to those sides, the Magpies would have been favoured to beat and sneak into the top three. Ultimately once the finals system was chosen, there was nothing that could be done if the competition was stopped. In saying that, was this a safe way of not upsetting any clubs by ruling them out of finals and denying them a chance that had been outlined at the start of the season for finishing in the top three?

Option 2 – Fremantle awarded the premiership

This option is one of those options Fremantle fans certainly felt they deserved and I think most fans would be in the boat of “yeah I get that, but it’s not entirely fair” in a begrudging kind of way. There is no doubt if they had to award a premiership, Fremantle was the obvious option – six wins from six games, undefeated on top of Conference B which was the stronger conference, and smashing Gold Coast in the first final to show why they were deserving premiers. The knock on the Dockers – and I think this is why they simply could not award them the flag – is because they did not play any of the three teams remaining. In the final two rounds they had Calrton and Melbourne to come, and had we been in the same boat say week one of finals and the Dockers had defeated both those sides, then I would say we’d be looking at the 2020 Premier. But having been denied the chance to face them – through not fault of their own – as well as North Melbourne, the Dockers winning the premiership would have left some question marks given the other clubs had all had to play each other.

Option 3 – One of the other teams awarded the premiership

This was never really an option and would create mass uproar, but the reason we have put this option in here is to show why they could not have given it to an individual club. North Melbourne was in a similar boat – they had only played Melbourne and actually lost – though that was way back in Round 1 and while they beat up on every side along the way, again you could not simply award them the flag having not beaten one of the top sides. The Dees could have had a great argument having actually beaten North Melbourne, but then got toppled by Carlton in the final round of the home and away season to slide to third. That would rule the Dees out of winning it, while Carlton only had the one loss – but that was fairly comprehensive to Collingwood. The Magpies pushed the Roos all the way in the semi-finals, so you could not have handed the flag to Carlton either. Basically, if it went to an individual side, it had to be Fremantle or bust, and realistically the unknowns given the draw meant the Dockers could not have been an option without some kind of query from opposition clubs and fans.

Option 4 – They play out the season

This is the option that makes the most sense but was not utilised. Player contracts and the off-season moves obviously make it difficult, but there is no reason why they could not bump it back, especially for three games. They have four sides across those three games which could all make it, and with an entire AFL season pushed back, it seems strange not to have at least had a contingency plan to put the remainder of the season on ice. This option is the only option that all four clubs – and indeed the entire supporter base – would be happy with. Now no one would say put the sport ahead of public health, but with the AFL looking to come back in June – keeping player contracts in mind and surely in this unprecedented time we could make it work – they could fit in three AFL Women’s games to conclude the season and put a full stop on the 2020 season. It will not happen now the league has ticked off the “no premier” option, but it just seems a bit strange having picked the eight-team option to keep all realistic clubs in the running of finals happy, to then pull away the chance for a title.

Summary:

In my shoes I would play out the season. If you can fit 17 rounds of AFL (which again looks doubtful based on everything else going on around the world) in for the rest of the year, you can fit three games of AFL Women’s. In fact, they realistically should have been given priority to finish if anything, because no AFL club could expect to be awarded a premiership just a round into the season. An option that could have been looked at was like an old fashioned finals series where teams might play two games within a week – the semis are played back-to-back followed by the final a few days later. I would host the series in Western Australia, handing Fremantle the deserving home ground advantage as the top team, and all sides could remain bunkered down for the week and just get it done. That way, it answers all the questions, results in a premier and there aren’t four sets of supporters who wonder ‘what if?’. If the Dockers did win the flag, they were deserving, if they got knocked off in the semi-finals by Melbourne, then the final would be at a neutral venue anyway – problem solved. Playing out the finals series was the obvious option and one that I’m sure could have been done even if down the track, or if it had been acted upon fast enough. Now as AFL Women’s fans we’ll never know, and I can understand the distaste from Dockers fans because of all the teams they did not have a blip on the radar. But I can also understand the logic of the other three sides supporters, whom would not have got a crack at the premiership, or argue that they were never tested by a top four side. But now we have been denied of a result and there will always be a question mark surrounding 2020.