Tag: Eastern Allies

Zreika an “inspiration” for fast-rising Whelan

GREATER Western Sydney (GWS) GIANTS Academy member Jess Whelan doesn’t have to look far for inspiration as she powers through her footballing journey. In the same charcoal and orange colours she donned this year during a one-game NAB League Girls stint, a top-flight gem has already paved a path worth following.

That gem is Haneen Zreika, a zippy GIANTS midfielder whose journey to the AFLW skipped through a couple of codes – much like Whelan is currently emulating.

“(Zreika) is an inspiration,” Whelan said. “Probably because she played Rugby League and AFL as well, which is similar to me.”

The 18-year-old says “positional play” and “tackling” are just a couple of the skills she has transferred from one sport to the other, making the transition that bit easier. For a prospect who only started out in Australian football “a few years ago”, she has made significant strides throughout the pathway – representing the Eastern Allies thrice in 2019, before turning out for the Allies this year.

“I played a year and then got picked to play (NSW-ACT) Rams,” she said. “I did that and then got into the Eastern Allies squad that year as well, then Covid hit the next year and now I’m with the Allies.”

In a slightly different mix to Whelan’s Eastern Allies experience, the 2021 Allies squad was comprised of players from NSW-ACT, Tasmania, and the Northern Territory. Whelan was one of eight GIANTS Academy members to be included in the 24-player squad.

“(The Allies experience) has been pretty good,” she said. “I’m getting along with a lot of the Tassie girls and it’s good just to meet people across Australia and see their different ways and how their footy’s going.”

Whelan, a 175cm winger also collected 15 disposals, four marks, four inside 50s and a goal as the GIANTS Academy defeated Murray Bushrangers in Round 6 of this year’s NAB League Girls competition. She was able to showcase a couple of her core strengths in that outing, with the key ones she identified being kicking and her running capacity on the wing.

While kicking on one foot is a strength, Whelan is working on becoming a more dual-sided player as she makes her left-sided kicking “more precise.”

As far as her footballing goals go, the youngster is keeping them relatively simple. Having come so far already in a short span of time, she says the end goal is to “try and get as far as (she) can.”

Favell’s sacrifices worth it for chance at AFL Women’s

WHEN talking about sacrifices made to play Aussie rules football, there is not much that Murray Bushrangers and Eastern Allies’ Abby Favell has not done to pursue her dream of playing AFL Women’s. 

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Abby Favell

“I started playing AFL in a primary school competition called ‘Paul Kelly Cup’ in year 5 and 6,” Favell said. “There was no outside of school competitions for girls in my area and there still isn’t today! “Once I got to high school I played in my school team, filled with girls that just wanted to give the sport a go or get out of school for a couple of days. In year 8 I was asked to go trial for CCC and was lucky enough to be selected.”

With significant road trips to and from not only games but also training, there is no denying that Favell is committed to making her dream a reality and has had a huge football journey that has led her to where she is today.

“During the pre-season and in-season, my parents drive me three hours (one-way) once or twice a week just to get to training in Wangaratta,” she said. “Playing in Melbourne meant a six-hour drive and an overnight stay which was taking a lot of time out of their lives just so that they could let me play the game that I love. “The travel for me isn’t so bad as I’m not the one driving and now with a few more girls from the Leeton area playing with the Bushies, the road trips are very eventful with weekly competitions on who could provide the best snacks. “The commitment wasn’t easy but many amazing people made it possible.”

“Football for me is just something different. “It is a game that allows me to run around with very few restrictions which is what I enjoy most. “With a lot of experience in other sports and other pathways, football has been the one that has made me look forward to going to camps and the one that has given me the best experience. I also love the bit of contact that you don’t really get in other sports.”

Like many, Favell has had her setbacks – missing out on selection and making tough decisions about other sports – but says that she has come out of it stronger, credit to her drive to continue to build her game but also fulfil her commitment to the sport.

“At the next level, trialling for NSW, everyone from my school that trialled was selected, except for my friend and I,” Favell said. “It was a setback in my football journey but it just made me stronger as I went away and trained harder to be selected in the team the next year. “After playing for NSW at the school nationals in Perth, I was certain that I wanted to play AFL.

“In 2018, I was selected through the Southern Sports Academy to play for NSW against VIC in under 16s. “The Bushrangers also asked me to play a few games for them at the end of the season. “In 2019, the Bushrangers asked me to join them for a full pre-season and I was honoured to be selected which resulted in the tough decision to give up the many other sports I was playing. “But luckily it was the right decision as this led to my selection in the NSW team and the Eastern Allies under 18 teams as a bottom-age player.”

When it comes to her footy journey, Favell’s consistency in the Murray Bushrangers saw her get a bottom-age berth at the AFL Women’s Under 18s National Championships, recording an average of 11.0 disposals, 2.7 marks and 2.7 tackles for the Eastern Allies and finding her footing against many familiar Murray faces who took the field for Vic Country. 

“Playing in the Eastern Allies team was an experience that I didn’t really know what to expect and it was one like no other,” Favell said. “The girls on my team were absolutely amazing and made the on field and off-field time fun. Playing against my Bushies team mates was actually really fun but very different.”

Playing against strong opposition from across the country, Favell proved that she could handle the pressure and used her clean hands and high work rate to impact both on and off the ball. Her efforts across both the NAB League competition and Under 18s Championships saw Favell entered into the AFL Women’s Academy, participating in training camps with the Academy squad.

“I remember the phone call and feeling very shocked,” she said. “I definitely thought that Ash (Moeller, AFL NSW/ACT Female Talent Manager) was just telling me he put my name in but nothing was certain. “The academy camp in Darwin was definitely not easy but overall it was a lot of fun and I learnt a lot that has and will help me along my football journey. “We had spent a week training with the GIANTS beforehand and that was certainly something that I am never going to forget as I was privileged to meet so many amazing players and people.”

Speaking of players Favell felt privileged to meet, GIANTS midfielder Alyce Parker has had a profound impact on the youngster, and is someone that Favell says she admires both on and off the field.

“She is an amazing player that is always working hard and trying to become better,” Favell said. “As a rural girl, she has shown me that anything is possible and it doesn’t matter where you come from, it’s the opportunities that you make. “Not only is she an absolute gun but she is also a wonderful person as she has also taken time out of her day to message me or stay in touch.”

A speedster with the ability to rotate through a number of positions – though ultimately looking most comfortable winning ball through the midfield – Favell also has clean hands to win the ball across the field and has great run and carry in transition credit to her endurance and never say die attitude.

“My strengths I feel would be my running and decision making skills,” she said. “I have been a cross-country runner and I guess a combination of all my other sports has enabled me to love to run and cover a lot of the ground… I’ve been focusing on doing the basics really well like taking the ball cleanly with my ground balls and giving it off on the up, hitting targets by both hand and foot. “I completed the NAB League training program we were all given and continued to work on the basic fundamentals, kicking, clean hands, ground balls etc along with playing netball and training with my local footy team.”

Favell said that while her commitment to her football dream has certainly impacted on her studies and other commitments, she has managed to balance it fairly well with plenty of commitment and strategies in place to ensure her schoolwork did not suffer.

“My strategy was to complete assignments and homework on the road between training or games as it was my only free time,” she said. “It was challenging when we were in the middle of nowhere with no service … but I managed to make it work and hand all my assessments in on time, just. “My family and friends mean a lot to me and they understand just as much as I do the commitment that I’ve made as I have had to miss my best friend’s birthday and my grandparents anniversary, just to name a few, due to playing or training. “I try my best to keep everyone happy but those that mean most to me understand the dedication I have made and usually save me a piece of cake.”

AFLW U18s Ones to Watch: Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers/Eastern Allies)

IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft.

Next under the microscope is Murray Bushrangers’ Abby Favell, a ball-winning midfielder with a high work rate across the ground.

Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers/Eastern Allies)

Height: 166cm
Position: Midfielder
Strengths: Accumulation, clean hands, tackling pressure, contested marking

2019 NAB League Stats: 8 games | 15.8 disposals | 3.9 marks | 3.3 tackles | 2.5 inside 50s | 1.5 inside 50s | 1 goal

2019 Under 18 National Championships stats: 3 games | 11 disposals | 2.7 marks | 2.7 tackles | 2.0 inside 50s

Hailing from Griffith, a rural town in New South Wales, Favell already makes a massive sacrifice to play the game she loves with more than three hours from Griffith to Wangaratta – where the Bushrangers play a number of home games – and more than five hours to Melbourne. While restricted to only two games this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Favell showed enough in her middle-age year to suggest she has the talent to continue to grow in her game.

She burst onto the scene for Murray Bushrangers in the NAB League Girls competition, winning 15.8 disposals, 3.9 marks and 3.3 tackles per game. Watching her on the field, it is clear she has a high work rate because she would continually pop up in different areas of the ground after being up the other end only moments early. In one particular game against Dandenong Stingrays at Shepley Oval, Favell had the ball on a string early as she won plenty of it through midfield. As she rotated into other positions she had less of it, but her work rate and involvement on the game never dropped because she might give off a handball at half-back and then receive the ball at half-forward less than a minute later.

Her efforts saw her called into the Eastern Allies side again where she had been identified as a talent previously. She played the three games and while she spent less time onball and had to play against higher quality opposition, she still maintained a firm double-digit disposal count and impressive tackle effort. In terms of her game style, Favell has no trouble finding the ball when in the middle, and her tackling pressure and clean hands are standout traits. Despite standing at 166cm, Favell is one of the stronger players overhead for her size, not often needing a few bites to clunk grabs.

While Favell’s work rate allows her to often find space on a wing or at half-forward, she can push hard defensively to win the ball at half-back or even deeper in defence. Hard to beat in the air, Favell can outwork her opponents and give her teammates the run in transition needed to set up attacking forays. While it is unknown what football might be on the horizon, if the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships do go ahead, it is hard to look past Favell when talking about the Eastern Allies players to watch.

2019 Eastern Allies Podcast | Interviews with Mia King, Georgia Garnett, Brenna Tarrant, Lillian Doyle and Jordyn Jolliffe

IN a new Final Siren podcast series reviewing the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships side-by-side, we take a look at some of the top prospects who performed strongly across all three lines, as well interviews with key players within each individual state.

The first edition is the Eastern Allies, and Final Siren podcast host Matthew Cocks, and Draft Central‘s Peter Williams discuss the players who caught the eye across the championships, as well have interviews with captain Georgia Garnett, vice-captain and Most Valuable Player (MVP) Mia King, AFLWU18 All-Australian Brenna Tarrant and the talented Lillian Doyle and Jordyn Jolliffe.

Below is full Eastern Allies podcast.

You can also find the Final Siren podcast and listen to past or future episodes on the following platforms:

Anchor

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts

Spotify

Breaker

Overcast

Pocket Casts

PodBean

RadioPublic

For all the AFLW U18s Championships news, head to our AFLW U18s Championships page and keep an eye out for our features starting soon!

AFLW U18 Championship previews: Eastern Allies

IN the first of two previews ahead of the first round of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, we take a look at New South Wales/Australian Capital Territory (NSW-ACT) and Tasmania who clash tomorrow and Sunday in their two games which will help determine the final Eastern Allies squad. The Eastern Allies then fly to Queensland to take on the Central Allies, Vic Country and Vic Metro from July 8-12. Below we take a look at some of the key players to watch.

Hailee Baldwin (Tigers/Tasmania)

Baldwin has been named captain of Tasmania and is considered a leader on and off the field. Not a huge ball winner, averaging the 7.7 disposals at NAB League Girls level, Baldwin is a big tackler. She earned the title of Tasmanian captain despite being a middle-ager and not being eligible to be drafted until next year. At 169cm, Baldwin is a good size for a developing player and will be a key cog in Tasmania’s midfield.

Tahlia Bortignon (Clarence/Tasmania)

The talented athlete is still developing, but has been one to watch since being named for the Eastern Allies last year. For Clarence her pace and agility are areas that standout, and she represented Tasmania Devils in all three NAB League Girls games. With so few having experience at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Bortignon’s experience will be invaluable to her younger side.

Lillian Doyle (Grafton/NSW-ACT)

Of the NSW/ACT players who took to the field in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, the one we have most looked forward to seeing as a top-ager is the talented Doyle. She booted three goals in a best afield effort last year, two of which came in the last term to guarantee the side a victory on the opening day. She had to build up some consistency in her game, but her raw talent on that day and throughout the championships was evident and she looms as a dangerous forward for NSW/ACT and the Eastern Allies. One of four members of the AFL Women’s Academy.

Tarni Evans (Queanbeyan Tigers/NSW-ACT)

A middle-age member of the AFL Women’s Academy, Evans was touted as one to watch as a bottom-ager given her ability to use either side of her body to dispose of the ball cleanly. Evans is likely to play as centre half-forward, providing a contest for the smaller forwards to rove to and create opportunities. While she is still a year away, she is another year more experienced and could be the X-factor inside 50 with Doyle who provides a spark.

Abby Favell (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

Another player who was touted by the Rams as one to watch for this corresponding series twelve months ago, has lived up to expectations with her performances in the NAB League Girls competition. She was able to have such an impact on the Bushrangers side that she could well have pushed for Vic Country selection as well had she been eligible. Favell never stopped running through the season and just had a massive work rate to get from defence to attack within a play, winning plenty of the ball and setting her teammates up. Expect her to rotate between the middle and on a wing, running in transition and burning off her opponents with either speed or endurance depending on the time in the game. Is a clutch player as well and one that could go forward and kick an important goal like she did against the Dandenong Stingrays late in the season.

Georgia Garnett (East Coast Eagles/NSW-ACT)

If Doyle was the one we were excited to see again, then Georgia Garnett was a close second with the hard-nosed and uncompromising midfielder with great athletic traits, being impressive last year. She has a wicked side-step and while it was noted she was not a huge accumulator last year, she rarely turned over the ball, with neat skills and great decision making. She also copped a knock on the final day and got straight back up. One of the key midfielders for the Eastern Allies this year, and another member of the AFL Women’s Academy.

Netty Garlo (Clarence/Tasmania)

Raw but talented is the best way of describing Garlo, who would no doubt have a very nice package of highlights with her closing speed and tackling pressure memorable from last year. Still a middle-ager, Garlo now stands at 170cm, and will still only be 16 by the time the championships roll around, having debuted last year as a 15-year-old trying to match it with some 18-year-olds. Garlo managed two games at NAB League Girls level for the Devils, and while she is still ironing out her consistency and game sense, there is no doubting her great combination of speed and hardness.

Chelsea Hargreaves (Murray Bushrangers/NSW-ACT)

Hargreaves was a really reliable defender for the Murray Bushrangers, and someone who was composed under pressure and used the ball well coming out of the back 50. A quality addition to the NSW/ACT and Eastern Allies mix, Hargreaves plays a similar role to Eloise Ashley-Cooper who is now at Essendon VFLW after having impressed at the championships. While she only averaged the nine disposals this year, Hargreaves does not waste them, and had multiple rebounds in four of her seven games.

Zoe Hurrell (Sydney Uni Bombers/NSW-ACT)

Tasted what it is like playing at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships last year, booting a goal and was named among the best in the Eastern Allies’ win over Central Allies on the opening day. With another year under her belt and showing she is capable of kicking a goal, Hurrell will be keen to impress in the Series One this year and represent the Eastern Allies for a second consecutive year at the championships.

Jordyn Jolliffe (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)

Having played through the Rams program for years and was a member of the AFL Women’s Academy alongside Alyce Parker, Jolliffe has a point to prove at these championships, having missed out due to injury last year. Playing as a full-forward, Jolliffe is difficult to beat in the air and is an imposing figure in attack. She was a key player for Bendigo Pioneers in the NAB League Girls competition, either slotting goals or allowing the ball to fall to crumbers from her marking contests. As an overager, Jolliffe will provide invaluable experience to the team, and combine with Evans up forward.

Mia King (Launceston/Tasmania)

The star player of Tasmania, and a good case for the Eastern Allies Most Valuable Player (MVP), along with a number of others on this list. King is the midfielder you cannot help but notice because of her ability to find the football and have an impact in all thirds of the ground. King made the All-Australian extended squad last year, the only Tasmanian to do so in a team that featured North Melbourne twins, Chloe and Libby Haines. Despite being 165cm, King plays taller than that and is able to crack in and win the contested ball in the air or at ground level, and then spread when required to win the ball on the outside and move it in transition. She averaged 19.7 disposals, 4.7 tackles and 3.0 inside 50s in the NAB League Girls competition for the Tasmanian Devils.

Alice Mitchell (Willoughby Mosman Swans/NSW-ACT)

Teammates at local level with Zoe Hurrell, Mitchell will again look to join her in the Eastern Allies side for the 2019 championships. At 180cm, Mitchell provides a tall target around the ground, and can play through the midfield as well as at either end. She not only has great strength, but good vision and presents constantly for her teammates. Will be a great addition as as utility to the team and slot in wherever she is needed, and have an impact.

Amy Prokopiec (Clarence/Tasmania)

Was a standout in Tasmania’s double-up weekend against Western Jets and Eastern Rangers, averaging 12 touches and 6.5 rebounds coming out of defence. Her work in the back half was very impressive and eye-catching and remarkably, the talented 175cm defender has only just turned 16. It means she has another couple of years left in the system, but is good enough to be competing with players a couple of years older. One to watch over the coming years, and one of the better tall defenders coming through.

Hannah Stewart (Bendigo Pioneers/NSW-ACT)

Stewart is one of the better stories when it comes to hard work and dedication, travelling three hours to head down from Hay to train at the Pioneers’ Swan Hill base, and that is not even including time taken to get to weekend matches. While still inconsistent, her best was very good as we saw against Gippsland Power in Bendigo’s big win up at Epson Huntly Reserve. She had 19 disposals, six marks, six inside 50s and booted 1.2, one of the best on the ground with Brooke Hards and Elizabeth Snell. Her work between midfield and forward is where she does best, and while she only reached double-figure disposals on three occasions, she used the ball very well and is a very good runner with high endurance.

Camilla Taylor (Launceston/Tasmania)

Another key forward who could be used in attack after experiencing the national carnival last year, Taylor works hard to provide leads and a target inside 50, and not only provides opportunities for herself, but others as well. She has a long kick which was noted last year, and it was just a case of lowering the eyes at times, but she is a danger to opposition defenders, often forcing them to give away free kicks by trying to restrict her.

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.

Three Fs drive Parker to success

FAMILY, footy and farming are the three Fs that have been the key pillars in country girl Alyce Parker‘s life. Now 18, Parker is in her final year of junior football and months away from the 2018 AFL Women’s Draft, but she has not forgotten the importance of the other two Fs.

“I live on a farm, and being on a farm with dad and mum and my two sisters since I could walk and I absolutely loved getting out on the farm and just doing everything I can,” Parker said. “It’s a huge part of not only my football career, but my life in general. “There’s football, there’s school, but then there’s the farm and I’ll be there every chance I get out on the farm.”

Parker is thankful for all the opportunities that have come along on her football journey, something that started by chance at school.

“I come from a farming family, we’re very much involved with footy and learnt to kick basically when I was walking,” Parker said. “So I always had a footy in my hand, but actually in my first game wasn’t until I was 12 with the school boys team. “The PE (Physical Education) teacher asked if I wanted a game. “I’d never played, I actually didn’t even know the rules but I had a left foot he noticed that, so that was where it all started. “Lucky for me I came in at a really prime time, as soon as I moved into Year 7 in high school the Youth Girls pathway just developed and I never had to stop, I was so lucky coming in that wave where the pathway is completely exploded and I had opportunities coming everywhere.”

Parker said both herself and all the other girls across Australia have the Youth Girls programs to thank for the rise of female football.

“It’s a huge gate opener to a career in AFL which in the last 12 months because of these programs,” Parker said. “I’ve developed and I have a huge passion for AFL now, and that’s purely for those pathways and without them I probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking today, so they’re the reason why so many girls, especially the younger age girls are playing AFL, and definitely in the coming years the reason why the game is just going to improve in every way.”

The talented midfielder said she noticed the difference in New South Wales (NSW) football and the fact that many younger girls saw Australian Rules as a viable option over rugby in the state.

“Yeah definitely, I come from southern New South Wales and even in Wagga, it’s very much rugby orientated, but now I’m training in Wagga a lot with AFL and see huge improvement in the population of girls playing AFL,” Parker said. “Coming from Albury, it’s (football) always been there, but in the last couple of years it’s just exploded and there’s so many new faces, but also there’s girls that just have this raw talent and they’re definitely going places and it’s amazing to be a part of.”

Living in rural NSW has made travelling to training and games challenging for Parker and her family, but it is something she has become accustomed to, and would not have it any other way.

“In a way it is disadvantaged living in rural NSW but at the same time, I’m only an hour or 50 minutes away from Wagga and an hour away from Albury, so in a way it’s no trouble at all,” Parker said. “Compared to girls who live five minutes around from the their training ground, but for me and my family we’re used to it, and we’re very lucky to have access to those two major growing talents of football in Albury and Wagga.”

Speaking of her family, Parker said she could not be more grateful of the sacrifices they have made for her football and life in general.

“Having them apart of my journey is obviously incredibly special to me, but also them too,” Parker said. “Mum and Dad are my number one supporters and the reason why I’ve achieved so much in my short career in a way. “Now that I have my Ps I can actually go to training myself, but they’ve been there since day one and the reason I’ve developed into the person I have and achieved the success in football, but also in other sports too.”

Having represented the Eastern Allies at the recent AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Parker enjoyed having the experience of bonding with new Tasmanian teammates and running out alongside them all within a few days of the first meeting.

“Yeah it definitely does add challenges,” Parker said. “We basically met on Saturday night having played against each other a couple of weeks ago, but for me that’s exciting having a few girls that I’ve never played with, but you know you can trust them and it just makes the last three days, you get to know them so quickly. “For the girls that I’ve known for years, in a way I’ve caught up with the girls I don’t know, because in a way we’re sort of, not forced but definitely have to, we don’t have a choice we’re playing together in two days, so we get to know each other as much as we can and we just know that we can trust each other and they’ll be there playing in the same guernsey.”

Having collected back-to-back Most Valuable Player (MVP) awards for NSW/ACT and Eastern Allies, Parker is not resting on her laurels, believing there is still much improvement in her game, and she has benefited under the tutelage of GWS GIANTS’ star Alicia Eva, who coached both her state sides at the two series.

“I have been working on a couple of things this year,” she said. “Particularly under the coaching of Alicia and the help and support she’s given me. “Having an opportunity in the winter series to play against some bigger bodies and in a way the AFLW players has definitely helped me. “It’s a very different contrast between Youth Girls and the AFL, so little things like, you only have one chance really when you’re up against the big bodies you don’t have much time so there’s quick decisions are something I’m working on.”

Parker has also been able to represent the Southern GIANTS in the Women’s Winter Series, giving her vital experience against bigger bodies having returned to compete against teenagers.

“Yeah definitely (it has helped),” Parker said. “I’ve noticed a huge difference a couple of weeks ago playing against Brisbane Lions obviously a very tough game, the scoreline wasn’t pretty. “But that experience against the likes of Sabrina (Frederick-Traub) and those amazing girls, then coming back to this level. “It’s not easier, but it’s definitely different and I feel it’s definitely improved my football in the last couple of weeks just coming a step down to those smaller bodies and having that experience against the bigger bodies, you can beat those younger ones.”

While her AFL Women’s dream could be just a couple of months away now, Parker is still balancing all of her passions.

“Being a family farm, I’m very much involved in it,” Parker said. “But I also have my AFL career so I’ll see where that takes me, but I’m very much involved in agriculture, and very interested by it. “But at the same time I’m interested by my sport and exercise too, so it will pan out and see what interests me the most. “But at the moment my focus will be on AFL in the coming months.”

Tasmania’s Lauren Stevenson grasps last-minute opportunity with both hands

EIGHTEEN year-old, Lauren Stevenson thought she would not have the opportunity to represent the Eastern Allies in 2018.

She was told by her coaches to give the younger girls a chance, which she was completely accepted. But then her coaches backflipped in the most pleasing way she could imagine.

“I went and played for Tasmania against NSW/ACT and yeah I don’t know, they just had a meeting apparently and they changed their mind on the rule and they said ‘we want you to come up and play in the Eastern Allies’,” Stevenson said. “I was over the moon, I was shocked, I was not expecting it because I’d finally accepted that I couldn’t go away but you know that’s fine, give the other girls an opportunity. “Then when I got that phone call, I was at work and I was buzzing at work. “I’m so fortunate and lucky to get another opportunity.”

With that opportunity, Stevenson revolutionised her game, thanks to the help of AFLW players, Alicia Eva and Nicola Barr. The Greater Western Sydney (GWS) duo coached the Eastern Allies in the 2018 AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships and Stevenson believes their advice was invaluable.

“This tournament, Alicia (Eva) and Nicola (Barr), who’s the back coach, have asked me to play behind the player this time and mix it up and just spoil,” the 18 year-old said. “So I’ve changed my game a bit which has been different, but I have learnt a lot from playing a totally different game. “I can’t thank them enough for helping me and showing me the vision of what I did right and what I did wrong.”

Back home at Latrobe in Tasmania, Stevenson thrives off the advice of her Dad, who was a keen footballer. When she was younger, she did whatever she could to be involved in football because like many other girls, she was told she was not allowed to play football after finishing off Auskick.

“My Dad was a really good footballer when he was younger and stuff and he’s telling me all about his football,” the Eastern Allies defender said. “I’d always go and help him at his club and run water for them or umpire, get around the footy boys and loved it there. “Anything I could do to help, I was happy to because I just loved it.”

Her father repays the support now, as does the rest of her family, who travelled up to the Gold Coast to watch Stevenson take the field.

“My whole family’s really supportive and really invested into my football,” she said. “My mum’s up here at the moment and Pop’s watching me which is really good [this interview was conducted at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships at Gold Coast]. “Dad’s really helped me with wanting to go for a kick, he’s more than happy to come help me with a kick, come to as many games as possible, same as my mum and my sister. “They’ve all really helped me a lot with everything.”

Stevenson currently works with her Dad as a stable hand, which means very early starts to the day. But despite this, the 18 year-old maintains a full focus on footy, using most of her day after work to perfect her skills and fitness levels. Her typical routine is by no means a light one, as she describes how she balances work with footy.

“In the morning, it depends on when the jockeys come in as well what time we start, but 5am start, get to the track, take the horses in, work them all, do all the usual stuff, then we will finish at around 11-12pm,” Stevenson said. “I picked up another training session, so Mondays I’d finish up at the track, come back and do a speed session and then finish that off, have a little downtime, then I have football training that night so I’d go to that. “The next day, the same things, get up early, finish at 12, then I have a strength session that night at the gym. “There’s training on every night.”

In addition to her extra training, the 18 year-old is also a part of North Melbourne’s senior academy. She has participated in many other training programs which add to her impressive football accolades as well, showing how determined she is to succeed in the sport.

“I’ve gone through the AFL Tasmania program which has been great,” the defender said. “I’m doing all the TIS (Tasmanian Institute of Sport) testing, going through all the carnivals and all that jazz but now that North Melbourne came in and they’re affiliated with Tasmania, they started up a senior academy. “I think there’s about 20 girls in it in the senior academy in Tasmania. “We all got strength and conditioning programs that we work with in our coaches and our regions and everything like that. “Every week you feel you’re improving in your strengths and in your power, your speed and your endurance. “It has helped me a lot and I wouldn’t be where I am now without those programs.”

Not only has she been able to develop her skills, but being in the academy has also allowed her to narrow down her options in terms of picking an AFLW team.

“I’ll nominate for North Melbourne,” Stevenson said. “ I would love to play for North Melbourne, I’ve barracked for them since I was little so I would love to pull on their jumper. “But if that doesn’t happen, I’d love to just play for any AFL club really.”

NSW/ACT weekly wrap: AFL Women’s U18 stars perform

IN this week’s NSW/ACT wrap we take a look at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships’ NSW/ACT contingent with the Eastern Allies and how they fared over the weekend.

Angela Prifits was named third best for Auburn Giants in their draw with Western Wolves in the AFL Sydney Women’s Premier Division. She is making a mark at the level, having been named in the best in four of her six matches thus far in 2018, following on from her strong season last year. While the result was disappointing for Southern Power in their 23-point defeat to Western Wolves, teenager Jemima Wrigley was a standout, named in the best in her first game back from the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. It was her fifth consecutive game named in the best for the Power, building up some impressive form either side of the championships. In Division One, Brenna Tarrant was rested and will return to the East Coast Eagles side this weekend.

Meanwhile in the Sydney Harbour Youth Girls Division One, NSW/ACT teammates went head-to-head in the Kellyville-Rouse Hill and Willoughby-Mosman clash. Georgia Garnett booted a goal in the Magpies’ 19-point victory, while Zoe Hurrelland Alice Mitchell both took to the field for Willoughby-Mosman. Emily Hurley is Garnett’s teammate but did not play on the weekend. Of the quartet, Hurrell has played the most games, booting four goals in eight matches, while Garnett has slotted nine in seven. Hurley has managed six goals in four matches, while Mitchell has three in four.

In the AFL North Coast, Ahlani Eddy had the week off with Sawtell Toormina Saints having a bye, while in the Youth Girls, Lillian Doyle was a key contributor in Grafton Tigers’ 52-point win over Coffs Harbour Breakers. Moving across to the nation’s capital, Alexia Hamilton continues to impress for Queanbeyan Tigers, having mixed between the juniors and the senior side this season. On the weekend she booted two goals in her side’s 115-point demolition of Tuggeranong. It was not the first time she has booted multiple goals, with a huge five-goal best on ground effort against Ainslie earlier in the season. In the far west, Eliza Cumming played for South Broken Hill against Central Broken Hill. Holding a narrow lead at each break, South conceded the only goal of the final term to go down by five points.

In the North East Border league, NSW/ACT and Eastern Allies’ Most Valuable Player (MVP) Alyce Parker showed she was a class above with a best on ground performance for Thurgoona Bulldogs. Parker booted five goals in the Bulldogs 124-point rout of Murray Felines, and made it four consecutive best on grounds for the year in the league. Parker has also managed an impressive 15 goals in four games for the Bulldogs. Lavington Panthers had the bye for the round, which meant Brea Quinlivan had the week off. Quinlivan has booted 15 goals in seven games this season, named in the best four times. Across the border in the Shepparton and Districts Junior Football League, Eloise Ashley-Cooper booted two goals in a winning side. Finley defeated Euroa 45 points at the Murray Bushrangers defender got forward to snag a couple of majors and was awarded best on ground for her efforts.

AFLW U18 Championships reviews: Eastern Allies

WITH an opening day win and two admirable performances in the remaining games, the Eastern Allies would be pleased with the performances at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. They had four All-Australians in the squad, but plenty could consider themselves unlucky, and we take a look at some of the key players, and results of the championships.

 

Key players:

Alyce Parker

The clear standout player from the Monday through to the Friday in the Championships and is well deserving of her Most Valuable Player (MVP) accolade for the Eastern Allies. There were big wraps on her ability and seeing her live, she is up there with the best players in the country and has a well balanced game. Her strength in midfield was a clear standout and a few fend-offs were reminiscent of Madison Prespakis, and the pair are not too dissimilar in the way they cover ground and influence a contest. Parker was probably a few unlucky misses away from having a complete carnival. A really well balanced player and does not do a lot wrong.

Alexia Hamilton

Hamilton showed she can play at either end, rebounding well in defence, then having stints up forward. Her final game got a massive tick for her ability to play in attack – booting the Eastern Allies only two goals for the game in the first term, and clunking a huge pack mark on the final siren and converting the set shot shortly after. Earned All-Australian squad honours and was consistent in her role throughout the carnival.

Brianna McFarlane

Earned All-Australian honours and was one of those players that was consistent across the board in the three games. Leading up from the forward 50, she booted a goal against the Central Allies on the first day, and had a number of other dangerous opportunities up the attacking end. Hailing from Coolangatta, McFarlane would have felt right at home on the southern Queensland grounds.

Mia King

A classy bottom-ager who showed plenty of potential across the week. She was Tasmania’s only All-Australian squad nominee, and backed up her good form in series one, with consistent form in series two. Playing through the midfield, she showed she is not afraid to crack in and win the hard ball, while spreading well and hurting the opposition on the outside. Will be one to look for next season as she continues to develop.

Lauren Stevenson

Overager from Tasmania, but she was ultra-impressive in defence. She rebounds really well, is good one-on-one and backs herself in taking the game on. Stevenson was certainly one of the shining lights across the carnival, because she settles the defence down and runs off her opponent to kick long downfield. Along with Libby and Chloe Haines, she showed Tasmania has plenty of footballing talent that can stand up on the big stage.

Lillian Doyle

Had the one standout game, but boy it was a game to remember. When the Eastern Allies were narrowly up at the final break, two huge goals to Doyle in the last quarter gave the side the separation it needed to defeat the Central Allies. A bottom-ager who can play tall or small roles, Doyle is another one who will be closely watched next year after some impressive forward craft his year.

Chloe Haines

Played everywhere really, predominantly in defence, but went forward and provided good pressure up there too. She has a long kick, and like her sister, did what she could to help the team. The Eastern Allies had a strong defence which was shown across the three days, and Haines was a big reason for this. She was the best player against Western Australia on the Wednesday, and while the final game was a little quieter, she spent practically the entire game in the back 50.

Libby Haines

Spent time through the midfield and in defence, and particularly stood out on the opening day and then against Western Australia in the loss. Strong overhead and moves well, she was able to roam on the outside, while also spending time on the inside to win her own football. Has a long kick and was versatile, nearly always beating her opponent one-on-one.

Netty Garlo

The X-factor of the team who was remarkably just 15 years old at the carnival. With two more years of development to come, you can see why they have picked her to match it against more experienced players. Her acceleration, speed and hardness at the contest was fantastic, and once she builds more consistency and game sense, she will be a really strong all-round prospect. Played off half-back and on the inside, one of those players you would not want to be chasing you down.

Georgia Garnett

Tough as nails and a classy mover, Garnett was a player who played a really important role in the midfield. She has a very neat sidestep, and while she is not a huge accumulator like others, she uses the ball well and is often the one players turn to in transition. Copped a knock on the final day, but got back up and ran straight to the next contest after choosing to stay on. A real team player.

 

Results:

Monday July 9

EASTERN ALLIES: 2.1 | 3.4 | 3.5 | 6.8 (44)
CENTRAL ALLIES: 0.2 | 1.3 | 2.3 | 2.4 (16)

GOALS:
Eastern Allies: Lillian Doyle 3, Zoe Hurrell, Brea Quinlivan, Brianna McFarlane.
Central Allies: Arthurina Moreen, Katelyn Rosenzweig.

ADC BEST:
Eastern Allies: Lillian Doyle, Alyce Parker, Chloe Haines, Zoe Hurrell, Brianna McFarlane.
Central Allies: Nikki Gore, Katelyn Rosenzweig, Esther Boles, Montana McKinnon, Arthurina Moreen.

 

Wednesday July 11

WESTERN AUSTRALIA: 1.1 | 3.2 | 4.3 | 7.3 (45)
EASTERN ALLIES: 0.0. | 0.1 | 2.3 | 2.3 (15)

GOALS:
Western Australia: Mikayla Hyde 3, Caitlin Hill, Kate Bartlett, Abbey Dowrick, Sarah Verrier.
Eastern Allies: Chloe Haines, Brea Quinlivan.

ADC BEST:
Western Australia: Sabreena Duffy, McKenzie Dowrick, Mikayla Hyde, Matilda Sergeant, Abbey Dowrick, Emma O’Driscoll.
Eastern Allies: Chloe Haines, Alyce Parker, Brea Quinlivan, Libby Haines, Alexia Hamilton, Georgia Garnett.

 

Friday July 13

QUEENSLAND: 1.2 | 3.4 | 4.5 | 5.5 (35)
EASTERN ALLIES: 2.1 | 2.2 | 2.6 | 2.6 (18)

GOALS:
Queensland: Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw 2, Charlotte Hammans, Georgia Eller, Taylor Smith.
Eastern Allies: Alexia Hamilton 2.

ADC BEST:
Queensland: Lily Postlethwaite, Ellie Hampson, Serene Watson, Chloe Gregory, Jade Ellenger, Zimmorlei Farquharson.
Eastern Allies: Alyce Parker, Netty Garlo, Lauren Stevenson, Alexia Hamilton, Mia King, Alice Mitchell.