Tigerettes trial for AFL academies
By Gemma Varcoe, Queanbeyan Age sports journalist First published in the Queanbeyan Age, Friday 19 February 2016
The rise in stature of female Aussie Rules Football has been astounding across the nation, including in Queanbeyan.
So much so that a group of about eight local ladies are trying their hand at becoming representative players as part of a talent search currently underway.
Participation levels in the sport are booming and last year an average of 145, 000 people tuned in to watch the first live broadcast of a women’s AFL match between the Melbourne Demons and the Western Bulldogs.
While on the day prior, a dominant male Adelaide only managed to draw in an estimated 114, 00 viewers to its thrashing of a hapless Essendon.
A national movement has sprung from the popularity of the game among women, signalled by the AFL Talent Academies which are currently scouring the region for promising female footballers.
The talent academy program aims to provide a long term commitment to its women’s contingent across the NSW and ACT, and to provide them with a pathway leading into representative football opportunities like their male counterparts.
The future looks bright, and AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan has indicated his intent to have a nationally televised women’s league up and running before 2020, with a look to next year as an early establishment date.
This bodes well for a professional Queanbeyan Tigerettes outfit, who have a long history of keeping the silverware in the city, having just recorded their third Division Two premiership in as many years.
This success has led to the home grown talent of Tigerettes Jacinta Froud, Hannah Dunn, Ella Ross, Megan Godfrey, Kristol Pike, Lon Flakelar, Lani Watson, and Jill Shea all choosing to attend the NSW/ACT Talent Academy trials being held in Canberra.
Froud has been playing in and around Queanbeyan for 16 years, having started with the Harman Hogs in 2000, before a stint with Tuggeranong ultimately led to her returning to Tigerland in 2010.
In that time she has watched the local community engage further with the women’s game and now welcomes the addition of professional academy level training for her gender.
“The training is to quite a high standard, that’s what I really enjoy about going,” she said.
“You have got the best girls from the ACT from each team, the girls who actually want to be there, are really committed to the sport and willing to push themselves to make that elite level.”
The Tigerettes contingent will compete in a number of trial matches on Saturday, March 5 at Football Park, Phillip, as a part of the NSW/ACT Female Academy Gala Day.
Training squads hailing from Western Sydney, Eastern Sydney, Hunter and Central Coast, Southern NSW will converge upon the capital where the best 22 under 18 girls, and the best 22 open women’s squads will be chosen for upcoming national tournaments and games.
Triple premiership winning Tigerette Jacinta Froud has been training as a part of the country’s first ever female AFL Academy trials. Photo: James Buckley.