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AN INTERVIEW WITH AUSSIE

Megan Godfrey #14, Hannah Dunn #2 and Lauren Flakelar #16- Standin' On Their Own Two Feet

​​Presented by Tiger champion, Tony 'Aussie' Wynd

'Doing it for themselves'

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Megan Godfrey #14

112 1st Grade Games

Leading Goalkicker 2017

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Hannah Dunn #2

134 1st Grade Games

Leading Goalkicker 2013, 2014, 2015

Captain 2013 - 2018

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Lauren Flakelar #16

110 1st Grade Games

Like most of their team-mates in the early days of the Tigers women’s teams, Lauren Flakelar, Megan Godfrey and Hannah Dunn, did not grow up playing football - because it was simply not an option. Instead, they grew up playing netball, hockey, softball, and dancing, with varying levels of interest in football.

Lauren (generally known as Lon) had participated in Auskick with her dad, Darcy, but there was no AFL for the girls in her home town of Orange at that time. She had watched her uncles play after she finished her ballet classes and always liked the idea of playing football. (Darcy Flakelar had played good football with the Tigers for several years in the late 1980s, including the 1989 reserves premiership team. He played mostly in the ruck, before moving to Orange. For some obscure reason, however, Lon has never spent much time in that position.)

Megan grew up playing netball and softball but also watched her brother and cousins play rugby union for the Queanbeyan Whites from where she developed an interest in football. She says, ‘From that time on, I always wanted to play football’.

Hannah had played in a couple of once-a-year, one-day round-robin AFL carnivals while attending school at Daramalan college but mostly as a novelty. She was primarily focused on her netball and hockey without really contemplating football. Then, in 2010, her netball coach from school, Davina Harris, who was a good friend of Jacinta Froud, asked Hannah to come along to training to try Australian football with the Tigers and …… she loved it.

By 2014, Hannah was trying to convince another friend, Ella Ross, to join in. Ella and Megan were also good friends and partly because Ella’s brother, Dean, was playing for the Tigers, the pair decided ‘let’s give it a go’. Megan said she ‘the club had a good feel about it as soon as we walked in’ and she then played for the next 8 seasons.

About the same time, Lon had moved to Queanbeyan for work and heard that the Tigers had a women’s team. Remembering a photo in the hall at home in Orange which has a very young Lon her on her dad’s shoulder while he is dressed in a Tigers jumper after a grand final, she thought she would ‘go down to the club and have a look’. To put it mildly, she loved it and hasn’t stopped playing since.

The trio all refer to the great camaraderie within the women’s playing group both on and off the field and they refer to the support provided by the club for the women’s program and that ‘things got better for us every year’.

This improvement was also reflected in the on-field results. After Hannah had played in the 2013 division 2 premiership, all three players shared in the 2014 division 2 and then the 2015 division 2, and 2017 and 2019 division 1 women’s premiership teams, along with a number of other key players throughout that period. Lon was also a member of the 2022 premiership team.

While the women’s teams are usually considered to be more level-headed and sensible than their immature and impetuous male counterparts, a few hours after their victory, most of the 2019 premiership team were to be found loudly singing (out of tune) celebratory songs at a house in Jerrabomberra. They were doing so whilst perched on the roof, to make sure all the local residents could join in if they wished.

They recall comments of players from other clubs on how well Queanbeyan looks after its female teams. They also noted the criticism from the Caberra clubs when the Tigers women started to receive match payments but note that payments for the women quickly became standard around the league.

What may not be so standard is the napkin and beer coaster recruitment program that the women’s squad has employed. Apparently, some of the recruiting program occurs at pubs, nightclubs, or other social events and whenever a potential new player indicates they might also ‘give it a go’, the unsuspecting rookie will be asked to quickly sign a beer-coaster, napkin or some other legally binding document to ensure the prospective player is aware of their new commitment.

They assert that the volunteers are the backbone of the club and make special mention of a few people amongst ‘the fantastic group of people who support the players’.

They are grateful for the coaching and broader football guidance provided by their sometimes reluctant and sometimes bewildered coach, Robert Anderson (who had earlier starred in 3 senior premierships with the Tigers as well as playing 3 seasons with his beloved Footscray (now Western) Bulldogs). They recall having limited space to train in some sessions and having to do variations of the same 6-point drill while Ando got frustrated at the players not taking training seriously enough. Ando would ‘try to get angry with us, but he couldn’t live up to one of his nicknames and get properly angry because he was laughing with us as well’.

Ando was also left scratching his head one night at training when he turned around to see the whole squad on their hands and knees crawling around the grass. He didn’t remember outlining a drill that included anything like that, so he enquired politely about what the hell everyone was doing. It was simply explained that one of the team had lost an earring and the team was helping look for it.

The trio also note the great backing the women’s program has received from Adrian Pavese, another of their coaches and club football manager. They said ‘Pav is and has been such a great advocate for women’s football and our teams. We are so lucky to have him on board’.

Furthermore, on behalf of all the Tigers women’s players, they pay tribute to Joan Vosnakes. ‘Joan’s love for the players is just ridiculous. We could never repay her for what she has done. Everybody loves Joan, she knows everything that is going on and keeps everyone together. We are her family, and she is ours’, Megan said.

Of course, Hannah’s football journey went beyond Queanbeyan and is an admirable one of courage, persistence, and belief. After fellow Tigers star Ella Ross (Shea) was drafted by GWS for the first AFLW season (Ella played every game that season), Hannah was selected as a train-on player, and played in the inaugural Giants AFLW game, where she was welcomed to the big-time by a shirt front from Adelaide crows full forward, Chelsea Randall.

Hannah was not promoted to the senior list at GWS but still had a strong desire to play at the highest level. She was advised to play at a higher level than AFL Canberra to both improve and showcase her talent. So, she went to Norwood in the SANFLW and showcased enough to finish third in the League best and fairest award. Hannah was then drafted by Gold Coast for the 2019 season, impacting enough to then be named co-captain for the 2020 and 2021 seasons. She has since returned to Adelaide to play with the inaugural Port Adelaide AFLW team. Hannah’s is grateful for all the support she received from so many quarters to encourage her to pursue her football ambition. ‘People kept telling me I was good enough – and that inspired me to keep working to improve my game’, she said.

The former team-mates noted that all at the club take pride in the success of the Tigers women’s program in having a total of 6 players drafted to the AFLW and advised to ‘watch this space - there are some good juniors coming through’.

While Megan has retired from the playing field, she has turned her hand to coaching as well as joining the football club committee. She has decided to stay involved because of the ‘special group of people’ involved with the Tigers football club. ‘You can be having a crappy day, then you go to the club and come away with a different attitude because it is such a positive place to be’.

Lon continues to play because ‘it’s the greatest game on earth and I will play until I can’t. I hope my love of the game is infectious and I can help others to enjoy the game as much as I do’. Lauren also mentions that her family is a little less worried than when she first started playing and her Christmas present from her mum was ‘ambulance insurance’.

Lon, Hannah, Megan, and the Tigers’ women’s football program have come a long way since then.

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