Tag: jy bond

2021 NAB League Girls Grand Final preview: Oakleigh Chargers vs. Geelong Falcons

AFTER 10 home-and-away rounds and two enthralling weeks of postseason action, the NAB League Girls Grand Final is upon us. Minor premier and competition benchmark, Oakleigh Chargers, will take on Geelong Falcons on Sunday afternoon in Werribee, as the top Metro and Country regions battle for premiership glory. With both regions completing their final training sessions last night, the teams are in and raring to go. We preview the big day, looking at form, highlighting the key matchups, and getting word from both sides.

NAB LEAGUE GIRLS GRAND FINAL

Oakleigh Chargers vs. Geelong Falcons
Sunday May 16, 2:00pm
Avalon Airport Oval, Werribee

Home-and-away records:

Oakleigh – 1st, 7-1, 228.4%
Geelong – 6th, 5-3, 128.6%

Last 5:

Oakleigh – 4-1
Geelong – 4-1

Previous meeting:
Round 8, 2021: Geelong 5.4 (34) def. Oakleigh 3.5 (23)

The Falcons threw a spanner in the works on the eve of the season break, handing Oakleigh its first loss for the year to the tune of 11 points. Despite leading at the first break, the Chargers fell behind as Geelong took hold in a three goals to nil second term, forming the foundations of a momentous win.

Geelong’s one-two punch of Poppy Schaap and Tess Craven proved pivotal through midfield, as spearhead forward Renee Tierney got busy in attack and the dynamic defensive duo of Annie Lee and Elizabeth Dowling was a constant obstacle for Oakleigh.

Chargers skipper Charlie Rowbottom spent more time up forward but finished as her side’s equal-top ball winner alongside Amanda Ling, as Charlotte Taylor enjoyed some time on-ball. Usual suspects Brooke Vickers and Stella Reid were also productive, but could not drag their side over the line.

The result did little to derail the Oakleigh express, as they charged on to a minor premiership and now, grand final qualification. For the Falcons, it proved a key point in their timely peak towards the end of the season, with both sides coming in off 4-1 runs and a bed of confidence.

Key take-outs:

Oakleigh:

“It was obviously a pretty good game out in Geelong and it gave our girls a good insight into the Geelong team. “We obviously couldn’t get the job done that day but it’ll give us some confidence going into the game on Sunday that we have played them before and we know a little bit about them. “A lot of the other teams we’ve played, for example Eastern (last week) we hadn’t played against before, so it was like going in unseen.” – Regional talent operations lead, Jy Bond.

Geelong:

“It does (fill us with confidence) knowing that we can take it to the best teams in the competition. “The style that we want to play, if we can bring that we know it matches up against most teams and keeps us in games. “That’s what we’ve talked about, making sure that we don’t stray away from that too much and just have trust in how we want to play and what we want to do.” – Talent pathways head coach, Paul Corrigan.

Teams:

Geelong Falcons:

FF: #4 P. Schaap, #39 R. Tierney, #18 K. Stacey
HF: #14 Z. Garth, #15 G. Featherston, #29 M. Van Dyke
C: #13 M. Courtney, #11 T. Craven, #26 I. Houtsma
HB: #23 E. Dowling, #46 A. McKee, #37 A. Lee
FB: #20 A. McKeegan, #32 M. Featherston, #33 T. Morrow
FOL: #38 K. Hardingham, #44 C. Simpson, #9 A. Van Loon

BENCH: #25 C. Adams, #2 C. Hardy, #6 T. Hassett, #45 T. Lewis, #22 A. Sanderson
EMG: #1 C. Bottomley, #5 S. Howley, #8 E. Perrett

Oakleigh Chargers:

FB: #23 C. Matthews, #5 M. Clift, #4 A. McCulloch
HB: #6 Z. O’Sullivan, #7 C. Taylor, #16 E. Woodford
C: #37 C. van der Vlies, #29 A. Ling, #9 Brooke Vickers
HF: #22 J. Jackson, #15 A. Smith, #10 S. Reid
FF: #31 S. Morley, #8 Charlie Rowbottom, #13 T. Morton
FOL: #3 K. Kearns, #33 J. Fleming, #34 L. Hart

BENCH: #1 L. Boyd Singer, #38 E. Harvey, #14 E. James, #19 J. McCormack, #28 A. Russell
EMG: #36 K. James, #24 H. Kenealy

The stars:
Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh)

The skipper and potentially the best player in the entire draft pool, Rowbottom was a lock for this slot. The explosive midfielder-forward is one of the many Chargers who can rotate through multiple roles; setting the tone in midfield and providing a contested marking threat inside attacking 50. She has started at full forward in recent weeks before rolling further afield, but proves impactful just about anywhere she goes. Come finals time, the players who can produce special moments or put a side on their back are the ones who stand out, Rowbottom is one of them.

Tess Craven (Geelong)

Arguably the best player in this year’s finals series to date, Craven has proven her worth as a genuine AFLW draft prospect. The tough and reliable midfielder perfectly embodies Geelong’s style; able to win her own ball and provide good pressure on the inside, before working hard on the outer to maintain possession and continue her side’s forward momentum. Craven’s decision making and short kicking game also comes into effect in general play, as she brings a strong accumulative factor around the ground. Having been best afield in her last two outings, Craven is one to stand up on the big stage.

The X-factor:
Jasmine Fleming (Oakleigh) & Ingrid Houtsma (Geelong)

There is always a feel good story come finals time, and that is the case to some extent for either team this time around. Jasmine Fleming has been a terrific addition for Oakleigh, fitting seamlessly into an elite midfield and boasting the added string of forward craft. The bottom-ager, who is also a fine cricketer, debuted in Round 9 and returned last week for another sensational showing, making her impossible to look past for the grand final squad. For Geelong, Ingrid Houtsma makes an incredibly timely return after being forced out via a head knock, named on a wing for Sunday’s game. She is a versatile type who can play on each line, impacting with each possession.

The systems:

Oakleigh:

“We play our girls through a variety of positions to enable them to be seen by the AFLW recruiters… it’s not by designing those rotations on winning games, it’s more about exposing them to new positions and finding out where they fit and what’s going to put them in the best position to get drafted. “We’re at the stage now where we’ll use those girls in the most damaging positions to perform best on the big stage. “If you’re in the big dance it’s one more time to show your ability to AFLW recruiters.” – Jy Bond

Geelong:

“We’re strong with what we want to bring with our pressure around the ball and in the contest as well. “We feel that if we can match it in there and then get the ball to the outside, our strengths as a group are that we can move the ball quickly, get it inside 50 and we know we’ve got lots of options that can hit the scoreboard as well.

“I think the last two games in finals, it was a really tough tussle against Greater Western Victoria last week, a really strong contested-type game with high pressure inside. “The Dandenong game too, we were able to get the ball to the outside, gain field position forward of centre and get some inside 50s and were able to score as well. – Paul Corrigan

Final words:

Oakleigh:

“I’m really proud of the way the girls have handled this year. “It’s been a pretty busy year for our coaches, staff and the girls, and we couldn’t be happier with how they’ve progressed through the year and just kept getting better week by week. “That’s all we can hope for, that they can go out there, have fun and hopefully for them they get the job done. “If they don’t we’ll celebrate the season regardless.” – Jy Bond

Geelong:

“We’re looking forward as a club on Sunday to putting our best foot forward and I’m pretty proud with the way our girls have gone about it and all our staff as well. “Win, lose, or draw we’ll be looking to do our best, but we understand too that Oakleigh is a very strong side and we have to bring our best on Sunday to match it against them.” – Paul Corrigan

Confident Chargers looking sharp despite preseason disruptions

OAKLEIGH Chargers regional talent operations lead, Jy Bond says his troops are “looking sharp” ahead of what is set to be a whirlwind 2021 NAB League Girls season, starting February 6. The Chargers have undertaken a changing of the guard with Bond now overseeing both the girls and boys programs, and new coach Jason Davenport tasked with the same duty. Despite an elongated break and some disruptions during preseason, Bond says he is happy with the progress shown ahead of season proper.

“It’s been pretty interesting, obviously coming back after COVID having hired a coach (Marco Bello), then that coach left then we had to hire a new one (Davenport)… so that was pretty disruptive,” he said. “Having said that, the boys and girls still had a pretty good preseason and they’ve been working hard. “The girls looking really sharp, which is great. They’ve been training well, we’ll probably have a pretty competitive team again with a fair few top end talents running around so we’re pretty confident.”

With no time for practice matches, each region is relying on match-simulation and intraclub hitouts to help bring their players back up to speed after nearly a whole year away from competitive action. Expectations are being tapered, but after a promising 2020 campaign was cut short, the Chargers are hopeful they can compete at a high level once again.

“We’re putting no pressure on the girls,” Bond said. “We’ve said from the start it’s about enjoyment, developing and having fun. We’re not really worried about the score, we’re more worried about the girls getting out there and having a having a crack because they haven’t played in around 10 months.

“We’re not really expecting them to come out and play at their best straight away, but we’re hopeful that with a few weeks they’ll be back at sort of the level where they left off last year.”

“We’ve just got to make sure that we look after the health and well-being of the girls and we’re not really prepared to put them into that sort of match situation so early, but we’ll do a lot of match simulation and small-sided match practice at trainings to make sure they’re right for Round 1.”

While on-field success was difficult to measure in just two games, albeit with an average winning margin of 76 points, Oakleigh can still put a sizeable tick next to 2020 given its presence at the draft. Three Chargers were selected within the first 26 picks of the AFL Women’s draft, adding to the six graduates taken within 23 picks on the men’s side. In the modest words of Bond, it made for a “pretty good result” overall.

Alice (O’Loughlin) was a bit of a surprise packet, we knew that she was definitely capable,” he said. “I know (former coach) Luke O’Shannessy was a big wrap for her, she’s definitely got a great athletic profile and it seems like she’s going really well down at North Melbourne. “We were obviously pretty confident of Mimi (Hill) going quite high. She’s just been an exceptional player for us over the last two years and then Joanna Lin, I think I was quietly confident about Joanna and I know Luke and I we do really love the way she went about it. “I watched a couple of games last year and I was really impressed with her courage… she’s definitely got something to offer so for her to go to Collingwood was a great result.”

Despite the turnaround of top-age guns the departure of some promising multi-sport athletes, Oakleigh is well-stocked across the board. Arguably atop the region’s talent pool is Charlie Rowbottom, the sister of Sydney midfielder James. She is one of many draft-eligible prospects Bond identified as promising after putting in strong preseasons.

“We’ve got Charlie Rowbottom, probably one of the most talented girls on our list at the moment,” Bond said. “Kalarni Kearns is another one who’s thereabouts, Amanda Ling is strong midfielder that we’re hopeful that will develop this year, Stella Reid is another player who has shown an exceptional amount of skill and ability to read the play over summer, Taylah Morton we’re looking to play in a few different roles this year, (and) Eliza James is definitely up there, she’s had a great preseason. “So we’ve certainly got some talented girls running around, we’re pretty excited with the girls to be honest.”

Others on the radar, albeit not yet of draft age include some potential father-daughter selections. 2004-births Gabriella Rawlings (daughter of Jade) and Jemma Rigoni (Guy) are part of the program along with Jasmine Fleming, the daughter of former Australian Test cricketer, Damien. Another middle-ager, Ruby Vanden-Boom is a developing tall who the Chargers will also look to utilise this season. She is quite “raw” according to Bond and also competes as a high-level rower.

Fleming, a promising cricketer, is one of a few players who will be rested for this weekend’s preseason testing event, but Bond says there are no glaring injury clouds over the squad heading into Round 1. The leadership group has been voted on by the players, set to be announced at the club’s jumper presentation night shortly.

Featured Image: Charlie Rowbottom in action last year | Credit: Solstice Digital & Photography

AFL Draft Watch: Jamarra Ugle-Hagan (Oakleigh Chargers/Vic Country)

IN the build up to football eventually returning, Draft Central  takes a look at some of this year’s brightest names who have already represented their state at Under-17 or Under 18s level in 2019. While plenty can change between now and then, we will provide a bit of an insight into players, how they performed at the NAB League Preseason Testing Day hosted by Rookie Me and some of our scouting notes on them from last year.

Next under the microscope in our AFL Draft watch is highly-touted Oakleigh Chargers key forward Jamarra Ugle-Hagan, who is a prime candidate to be taken first off the board come draft time after a stellar bottom-aged season. The Warrnambool native represents Vic Country despite his current zoning in Oakleigh’s system via boarding at Scotch College, and will be well sought after despite his ties to the Western Bulldogs as a Next Generation Academy (NGA) product. The 194cm prospect returned elite numbers at the pre-season testing day, showing off an elite vertical leap off both feet while also registering under the three-second mark over 20 metres and over 21 in the yo-yo test. A star athlete across the board, Ugle-Hagan has the raw potential to be anything at the next level.


NAB LEAGUE PRESEASON TESTING HIGHLIGHTS:

Speed: Elite (#14)
Vertical Jump: Above Average (#15)
Running Vertical Jump: Elite (#1)
Endurance: Above Average (#25)

Ugle-Hagan on testing day:

“It’s actually been a really good experience with all the other clubs, you can just see your competition which is pretty good.”

Talent Manager Jy Bond said in the preseason:

“Jamarra’s just Jamarra, he’s a fantastic leader and obviously works really hard. “There’s a lot going on this year, obviously these boys are NGA eligible, they’re training with their AFL clubs, they’re training in their respective hubs and they’ve both got school for Scotch (College) and they’ve got the Chargers program. “We’re just monitoring their workloads and their wellbeing and we’ll know that they’ll play great footy for us and we’re really excited that they’re in our program”

FULL INTERVIEW WITH JAMARRA UGLE-HAGAN:

PLAYER PAGE:

Jamarra Ugle-Hagan

Height: 194.3cm
Weight: 83.9kg
Position: Key Forward

2019 NAB LEAGUE STATS: 9 games | 10 disposals (50 per cent contested) | 5.2 marks | 1.4 tackles | 1.7 inside 50s | 24 goals

Strengths: Athleticism, overhead marking, acceleration on lead, game-breaker
Improvements: Field kicking

2019 SCOUTING NOTES:

Under 17 Futures All Stars

By: Michael Alvaro

It was a promising display from the Bulldogs NGA product, played out of position for the most part at centre half-back. He started off on his usual leads up forward but soon slotted in behind the ball and did well to leap at whatever came his way. He was terrific at the drop of the ball in the third term with his athleticism, and would have been a really effective player had he stuck more of his kicks on the run.

Grand Final vs. Eastern Ranges

By: Peter Williams

Worked hard throughout the game on his way to three behinds from 10 disposals and eight marks and worked up the ground to present and produce six inside 50s as well… Ugle-Hagan took a towering mark early and gave spectators a reason to see why he is so highly rated for next year.

Preliminary Final vs. Sandringham

By: Ed Pascoe

Another dominant outing from the 2020 draft prospect who is tied to the Western Bulldogs’ NGA. The talented athlete was again the clear standout key forward with his speed off the lead and marking power too much for Sandringham to handle. Ugle-Hagan had a great start taking two great lead up marks an converting both set shots but his best goal came in the third quarter marking deep in the pocket and kicking a sensational goal right on the siren.

Qualifying Final vs. Gippsland

By: Ed Pascoe

His lead up marking was superb with every one sticking and he kicked two nice goals and even passed another off unselfishly. He would show again he was not just a lead up and mark player with a great chase down tackle in the last quarter, converting the set shot to reward his effort. The bottom age talent could have had an even bigger day if he had kicked straight, going on to collect 13 disposals, six marks and kicking 3.3 with a few kicks going out on the full as well.

Round 10 vs. Calder Cannons

By: Taylah Melki

Had an impressive game, contested the ball hard and was good at ground level. Nailed an impressive goal off a couple of steps and working his way through traffic, showcasing his clever goal sense and long booming kick. That goal was closely followed by another major credit to his hard running, clever lead and strong hands to take a good mark in the forward 50 and convert… ended the game with five goals and proved to be a real dangerous prospect in the forward 50.

2020 NAB League Boys team preview: Oakleigh Chargers

REIGNING premiers, Oakleigh Chargers have plenty of bottom-age talent from 2019 that will lead the assault on back-to-back flags, with a host of Next Generation Academy (NGA) and father-son prospects who will create plenty of traction in season 2020. Talent Manager Jy Bond said the club had a lot more bottom-agers last season that usual but it showed the strength of the group and could mean plenty of good signs for the season ahead.

“I think we played 10 or 11 bottom-aged kids last year in the grand final team so you’d expect that they (will) continue to develop and that they will be thereabouts again which bodes for another strong list,” he said. “We were probably a bit bottom-age dominant last year but that’s what you get when you’ve got such talented kids that pushed for selection throughout the year and it means we’ve got a strong top-aged group this year – which is obvious because the kids are a year older. “It’s going to be good, those kids get another year of opportunity and development, a lot of them are in the (AFL Academy) Hub which will mean they’ve got a lot on their plate with our football, school football, and Vic Metro. “But we’re happy with where they’re at and it gives the bottom-age kids from this year a chance to come and learn from those kids so it’s a good situation to be in.”

Not only will the list now be top-age dominated again, but a number of top talents are finished school or not having to juggle their on-field commitments between NAB League and school football. Bond said whilst many top-agers will be available, it was still important to give the bottom-agers chances for sustained development, though the ability to pick between a larger number of players will be a welcome change.

“It’s a different situation to what has happened in the past in our region with a top-age dominated list, and a lot of those kids are out of school which is another change for our region. Sam Tucker and Alex Lukic, they’re both in the Hub and out of school, we’ve got Lochlan Jenkins, Giorgio Varagiannis, Ryan Valentine, it allows us a bit more stability in our list,” he said. “Last year there were rounds where we struggled to find enough kids to play because of school football and the schedule so this year we should have a bit more continuity with our list which will be a bit better for consistency and development of some of these younger kids. “But I’m assuming with those younger kids we’ve got on our list, we’ll definitely play them. “We’ll play as many kids as we can like last year, I think we played probably 70-plus kids last year and part of the program is to develop kids and give them an opportunity so the more kids we can play, the better. “But it’ll be a little bit harder to manage this year with the top-end talent that’s going to be available every week.”

Oakleigh has always had strong top-end talent and 2020 will be no different with familiar names and consistent players from last season likely to lead what is predicted to be another strong draft crop from the Chargers’ perspective. Bond said it was hard to beat the midfield the Chargers had in 2019, but a fair chunk of that midfield was still running around and despite losing the top two picks – Matt Rowell and Noah Anderson – there was plenty of be excited about for the year ahead.

“When you think of last year, you couldn’t get a much stronger midfield than what we had last year with Ando (Anderson), Rowell, Will Phillips, Lochie Jenkins, Fraser Elliot, (and) Finlay Macrae,” Bond said. “We’ll probably play our kids all over the ground to give them experience and exposure to different roles so we can prepare them for the next level. “But it’s going to be competitive, that’s the reason and if they’re going to be playing at the next level they’ve got to be able to compete and win a position. So if they can do it with us, they’re on the right track.”

Of those with family ties from the AFL, Bond said there were a number of father-son prospects who could follow their father’s into the elite level, but still had plenty of development left in them. Among the familiar names were Tex Wanganeen, son of Essendon and Port Adelaide great, Gavin, Tom Silvagni (Stephen, Carlton), Harrison Free (Tony, Richmond), Maurice Rioli Jnr (Maurice Snr, Richmond) and Sam Darcy (Luke, Western Bulldogs). Of the more talked about talents are the NGA members with Reef McInnes (Collingwood) and arguably the most talked about player in the entire draft, Jamarra Ugle-Hagan who is attached to the Western Bulldogs’ NGA.

“Reef’s had a bit of an injury-interrupted pre-season, he had a bit of a stress response from last year so we’ve taken it easy with him – we’re not rushing him at all,” Bond said. “And Jamarra’s just Jamarra, he’s a fantastic leader and obviously works really hard. “There’s a lot going on this year, obviously these boys are NGA eligible, they’re training with their AFL clubs, they’re training in their respective hubs and they’ve both got school for Scotch (College) and they’ve got the Chargers program. “We’re just monitoring their workloads and their wellbeing and we’ll know that they’ll play great footy for us and we’re really excited that they’re in our program. “It’s just exciting to have such good kids in our region that we’ve got to work with, we’re blessed with talent and we’re pretty fortunate as we have been over the past couple of years and probably will be for the next couple of years as well.”

While many of the above are also in the Vic Metro Academy Hub, there were a few more names that Bond raised who also have earned a spot in the hub with great signs during their time at the club.

“They’re (Academy Hub players) obviously identified as really talented kids,” he said. “Conor Stone is another one in the hub that sort of came out of nowhere last year and Bailey Laurie. “We rated them really highly in our program, that’s why we played them as bottom-agers. Sam Tucker’s another kid who will get an opportunity with us all year being out of school. “We’ve got to look at their continued development, I know it’s a bit of a cliché but we’re there to support them, let them have fun and enjoy their footy. “It’s one of the strengths of our program that they all love being there and they’re a really strong group – I think that’s what we saw last year with the way they all interacted and they all knock about with each other outside of school. “They’re really strong as a group, we’ve done a lot of leadership work with the group and it’s really exciting. “I sound like I’m banging on a bit about them but we can’t fault them. “The coaching group’s done a really good job, we’ve got a really good culture at the program.”

Bond said the likes of Jenkins and Varagiannis had already stepped it up over the preseason, whilst another father-son prospect had come into the program as a bottom-ager after purely playing school football last year.

“I think Lochie Jenkins has really worked hard over the pre-season. Obviously being at a public school (and) out of school being a labourer, we’re hoping he gets a look in. Giorgio Varagiannis has had a good pre-season as well, another hard-working kid who’s not in the hub. We’ve had a fairly standard pre-season, we’ve had a lot of interruptions this year with smoke, with weather, with ground availability so we’ve been a bit nomadic in our preparation but we don’t see that as a detriment. They’ve got to play a lot of footy, so we manage their workloads so that they can come good during the footy season. Nick Daicos has come into the program and he’s been fantastic. A couple of the younger bottom-aged kids in Braden Andrews (and) Alex Lukic, they’ve fitted in well and enjoyed a pre-season with the top-aged kids.”

While with the enviable talent at Oakleigh’s disposal the Chargers are tipped to be one of the team’s to beat again, Bond said it was still about development and getting them to where they need to be in their career progression.

“We’ll go out there and have a crack,” he said, “We like to throw the boys around to give them more opportunities and I guess at the end of the day when you’ve got such good kids they tend to put it on the scoreboard.”

NAB League season preview: Oakleigh Chargers

HAVING narrowly missed out on a flag last year, Oakleigh Chargers are preparing to launch another assault in 2019 with a number of top-end talents on the list. They have changed Talent Managers with Jy Bond crossing from Western Jets to rejoin the club he played for, replacing Craig Notman who has headed up the Tasmania Devils program. Bond said while the talent amongst the squad was terrific, it was about developing that talent throughout the year, rather than results-based.

“I don’t think the expectations have really changed, year on year we always just want to develop the best possible talent we can, and we’re lucky we’ve got a number of decent boys this year, obviously it’ll translate, hopefully, to success on the field,” Bond said. “Obviously it’s my job to develop talent to be draftable but you know, if you’ve got good kids and you develop them well then you win games and end up with some on field success.”

Oakleigh Chargers had 11 players drafted into the AFL last year, emphasising the strength of their top-end talent. Bond is looking forward to building on the work done with the bottom-agers last season and welcoming in more younger players in 2019. He said while there were a number of potential first round prospects, there was also a lot of underrated talent at the club.

“(Oakleigh) had 11 (drafted) last year, which is really testament to the program and there’s another odd handful again (this year),” Bond said. “There’s (Noah) Anderson, (Matt) Rowell, (Trent) Bianco, the big names that everyone knows, but I think it’s the kids that no one really knows that we get more credit for developing through the year, and there’s a number of kids coming through – (Joel) Capetola, (Lucas) Westwood, (Jacob) Woodfull, Nick Bryan, so there’s a number of kids, and you could throw a blanket over 10 or 15 kids. “You just never know what’s going to happen over the course of the year, so fingers crossed they perform well.”

The Chargers’ pre-season has been strong with both the male and female athletes buying into the values of the club and working hard over the pre-season to be best prepared for the season ahead.

“Internally I don’t think we’re surprised about any of our kids, because we know how hard they’ve worked over summer and they’ve been really bought into the program,” Bond said. “They’ve worked hard, they’ve ticked the boxes, they’re compliant … overall we’re pretty confident that we’re going to have another good crop. “We’re pretty confident about the girls as well, because I look after the girls program so I’m pretty happy that we’ve got some good girls too. “So yeah, we’re confident we’re doing the right thing and hopefully we can get some strong development again.”

One player who missed out on being drafted, but has returned as a 19-year-old listed player this year is Joe Ayton Delaney. The Vic Metro defender/midfielder has the versatility to play anywhere on the field.

“Joey’s been fantastic round the group, his leadership – he’s come back really positive,” Bond said. “The 19th position is a really hard one, you’ve gotta hit the ground running and play good football at the start of the year, and he’s worked hard over summer. “We’ll use him midfield-forward, everyone knows he can play down back so what we’re really happy with is his enthusiasm, his leadership in the group, so I really hope for his sake he does really well.”

Another new player to the list who played TAC Cup last year is Jamarra Ugle-Hagan who has crossed from the Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels given he boards at Scotch College.

“We’re very fortunate to have Jamarra in our program, he’s a great kid, he’s bought in, he’s a pleasure to coach,” Bond said. “I don’t know what more you can say about him, it’s just an added bonus to have him in our program and hopefully we can add him to the list in a years time. “Hopefully we can help him develop his football because he’s certainly got the tools at this stage that indicate he’s going to be a good player and we can hopefully see that in two years time.”

Bond said the Chargers were keen to back their players in and stick to the fundamental principle of any sport – having fun. While Oakleigh would still aim to be accountable and have structures within the game, they wanted to play to the players’ strengths.

“I think we instil a lot of confidence in the kids to play their own games, I know ‘Clarkey’ (Head Coach Leigh Clarke) is very strong on individuality and flair amongst the players and we really just want the kids to have fun and enjoy their football,” Bond said. “I know the kids love being part of our program and we all work together and it’s fun and we really talk about love, and loving the game at Oakleigh. “I think Clarkey’s really instilled that in the group and we just want to make sure the kids show what they’ve got, that’s our job, so we don’t want to hold any of them back, we want to give them a bit of licence to obviously follow the team structures but also play to their strengths.”

Oakleigh Chargers’ NAB League season begins on Sunday, March 24 when they face Eastern Ranges at RSEA Park, Moorabbin.

U18 Girls season preview: Oakleigh Chargers

AFTER not winning a game in 2017, Oakleigh Chargers powered to three wins in 2018, including an impressive victory over Gippsland Power in Round 1 – their opponents tomorrow. Female Talent Manager Jennifer Phefley said the girls were able to build on their initial season and put in some impressive performances throughout the year to hold them in good stead for 2019.

“Last season was, for me personally was the first time that I was working with the girls so I came up off from the boys program and it was really good to see the development of the girls over the space of time that we had,” she said. “We went about six months or so, maybe a bit more when you include pre-season, but it’s really exciting to see that development and how quickly it’s happening with the girls.”

Oakleigh finished the year with two draftees – Collingwood taking Katie Lynch and North Melbourne adding Daisy Bateman. Both girls had tasted Victorian Football League Women’s (VFLW) action with Collingwood in the 2018 season post-TAC Cup Girls. Phefley said the experience had built on their time at the Chargers and set them up for a successful transition into the AFL Women’s competition.

“We actually had Daisy come back to chat to the girls at the club and she said it’s a very big step and I’ve actually spoken to Katie as well – both are loving the challenge but it’s definitely still a very big step and as I said, just a good challenge for the girls that want to take that next step with their football,” Phefley said. “Absolutely (the VFLW experience helped the girls). “The thing is with junior footballers, boys or girls, it depends on their maturity in both their body and mind is set to how well they adapt at that next level and getting a taste of it as a junior is really important.”

Like a number of sides, Oakleigh focused its pre-season attention on strength and conditioning. It was an area of improvement identified last year, and Phefley said the girls were taking the changes in their stride. While they felt the team might have been less prepared for the 2018 season, the Chargers Female Talent Manager said 2019 was a different story.

“(It has gone) really well,” Phefley said. “We identified key areas at the end of last season that we wanted to develop on – particularly the strength and conditioning side of things. We found when the girls got onto the full-ground last year they were a bit under-conditioned so that’s been one of the main focuses in pre-season. “And then just things like overhead marking, ball skills on the ground – those sort of key areas that we’re seeing are really important skills to have when you move up through VFLW and into the AFLW. “I think the girls are feeling pretty confident in that they’ve prepared themselves the best they can. We’ve got a lot of new girls in the squad so I think there’s a bit of an exciting vibe from them that this is their first foray into the competition. So I think it’s a really good, positive vibe from all the girls.”

The top prospect to watch in season 2019 is the silky-skilled Gemma Lagioia who roams between the midfield and forward lines. Phefley said Lagioia was a smooth mover who has a game-turning ability.

“She’s been really good (in pre-season),” she said. “Obviously she’s an outside player so we’re working on those really clean skills. We had a practice match on the weekend and a couple of times she just kind of waltzed through and was able to get the ball really cleanly and it allowed us to come out the other side of the stoppage and take control of the game from that aspect.”

Emily Harley is a tall target who switches between forward and defence, and was recently named as vice-captain of the Chargers. Phefley said she might be in for a change of role in 2019, still playing forward but spending time in the midfield to use her stronger body to the teams’ advantage.

“She’s an interesting one,” Phefley said. “We probably would be looking at her as that tall big-bodied midfielder a bit, and also playing as a forward. “She’s got that massive kick, she’s a very powerful athlete so being able to utilise her assets in that matter – she’s very strong obviously in the contest and in stoppages.”

Phefley said the other player who could catch attention this season is 19-year-old Amelia Peck, who is the Chargers’ tallest player at 183cm. She is described as “very strong, (and) has got very good hands overhead and below her knees” and could become an important player for Oakleigh.

“They’re probably our top three in terms of top-agers this year, we’ve obviously got some other girls coming through and it’s just a matter of seeing how they progress in matches,” Phefley said. “We haven’t seen enough of them, or they’ve developed quite rapidly and so it’s just a matter of where they go from here.”

Looking beyond 2019, Phefley said there was a lot of developing talent at the club, with some players already showing leadership on and off the field.

“Our captain is actually a middle-age player, a 17-year-old – Mimi Hill,” she said. “Obviously she was voted in by the girls so she’s highly rated for her skills and the way she goes about her football both on and off the field. “So she’s definitely one that we’re keeping an eye on over the next two years. “(Others) we’ve got as bottom agers, they’re still quite raw but there’s definitely some exciting things there. “We’ve got Charlie Rowbottom, she’s actually the younger sister of James Rowbottom who was drafted last year, and she’s quite a strong big-bodied 16-year-old. “She’s developed and has got some really good upside, unlike a lot of other 16 year olds she’s got the body to play against the older girls so it’s just giving her confidence to break through packs and take on those bigger bodies.”

While Phefley has remained on board in the female space, long-time Male Talent Manager, Craig Notman headed to Tasmania to manage the new Tasmanian Devils side. A number of other talent managers switched allegiances, including Western’s Jy Bond who moved from the Jets to the Chargers over the off-season.

“It’s been good (having Jy Bond on board),” Phefley said. “Obviously Jy’s been a Charger himself so he’s really jumped in and he’s really enjoying the club. “There’s all our old stalwarts that were here when he was here so it’s been really good. “As it is when anyone new comes in, they bring their ideas, their fresh ideas and something new.”

Looking out to Sunday’s clash with Gippsland Power, Phefley said the team was raring to go, and wanted to bring the heat while building both individual and team development in 2019.

“We just want to improve on last year, so as long as we come out the other end having learnt a couple of things – obviously we’ve placed emphasis in our pre-season on our conditioning, being able to run out games, tackling, pressure around the ball, all those sort of things,” she said. “As long as what we’ve been training, we’re able to put into practice and develop along the way – that’s all we can really ask for.”