With the Girls pre-season in full swing, Martha Cantwell has been impressed with her side’s development over the summer.
“There’s been a huge difference from pre-Christmas, with our focusses and the Girls’ development along the way,” she said.
“The last 4-6 weeks we’ve put a lot of kilometres into their legs and amped up our physicality in the contest side of things, which has been really great to see.”
Cantwell and the coaching staff have ensured that there has been a significant focus on improvement, both in their footy and off the field.
“There’s such a focus on development, it’s not just about fighting for a spot on gameday. It’s a journey with these girls, we are really lucky to have our 16s training with us as well. A lot of our program is focussed on learning and growing on and off the field, improving those elite behaviours so that by the time they are in their draft year, they can get looked at.
“I’ve loved how we have connected as a group. The feedback we have been getting from players, staff, parents, it’s all been really positive. People are coming in and saying the girls are connected and happy when they’re playing and that we are developing a great culture, that’s what I’m most proud of so far.”
In the past couple of weeks, the squad has transitioned into a match play block phase and Cantwell was excited to actually see the girls play football.
“Our match play blocks have been great to actually see the girls play footy. I haven’t actually seen many of them play, a lot of it’s been based off their past and what I hear,how they train, so it’s excellent to see them play some proper footy.
“Once we started our match play block, seeing the girls executing what we’ve been practicing, the skill development overall as a group has gone through the roof, we are really happy with how we are tracking at the moment.
“We also wanted to try and implement the team structures, see what the girls can do and where else can they play. There were a few that popped up for us that gave us something we hadn’t seen yet.
Cantwell was impressed with the girls’ performances as a whole, iterating that “they’re all stars in their own way”.
“Emily Gough played on a wing and she played really well there. Getting up and down the ground and connecting, holding her width, we were really happy with her game.
“Our backs look quite strong and we are really happy with how they are tracking. We’ve got Georgia Foran who was in Metro last year and she’s back as a 19-year-old, Annabelle Embelton who will be Metro this year. They’re our sergeants down back and are really consistent in how they play their footy.
Plenty of others shone across the two-week period.
“Ash van Rooyen is new to the program, she’s an elite decathlete and the way that she can break lines and find and create space is really exciting. Cam Millias has been absolutely firing this pre-season, it showed in our block. Her ability to compete and win the footy in the contest, drive her legs out of it, is really cool to see.
“Lily Parsons has an athletics background and has played on the wing, she gets up and down the ground, is really quick and understands the game quite well.”
Youngsters Daisy Flockart and Alex Calogero have also shown promising signs this pre-season.
“As 17-year-olds, Daisy Flockart shone through the midfield and Alex Calogero has been playing off half-back. We really hope to develop her through the midfield and on the wing with her elite running capacity."
The versatile Jasmine Shepherd and Vic Metro-representative Caitlin Voss also impressed the coaching staff.
“Jas Shepherd we have held down back, trying to solidify her learnings there. She has got plenty of the footy and shown heaps of development over this pre-season.
“We tried a few things with Caitlin Voss over this period. We saw her getting up on the wing in addition to playing as a key forward. We will keep playing with and looking at that.
“There’s also a couple of 16-year-olds that we are really excited about, they’re just playing some really good footy against the older girls. Playing above age is always a hard thing to do and they came out really strong.”