COMMENCING its maiden Youth Girls campaign on Sunday would be a daunting challenge for most sides.
But the Gippsland Power’s Youth Girls Academy – and its first-year coach – could not be happier.
The Power has made the leap up to the Academy level this year after featuring in smaller scale competitions and programs in recent seasons, such as the Subway Shield.
But the time was right for the Power to surge into Youth Girls Academy system, ahead of the first Youth Girls Academy Challenge.
Gippsland’s inaugural coach Scott McDougal didn’t know what to expect from his first time coaching female football, but has been incredibly impressed with the squad’s work-rate and outstanding football smarts and capabilities.
“It’s been really good – I’ve never been involved in female sport before, VFL level for four years then TAC Cup for last six or seven and I had doubts,” McDougal said. “Doubts about how it would go, but the one common factor is the love of football and that’s what drives the girls to be elite athletes and that’s what drives the coaching staff as well.
“I thought it would be a lot more challenging than it has been – but we just talk footy.
“We coach footy and the girls want to learn about it, so there’s a great common bond.”
McDougal is pleased with the side heading into the Challenge, with talent to spare up and down the squad list.
“It’s looking good – they’ve been really committed to the program and is really excited,” McDougal said. “The top end talent is really good – people like Shayla Marsh, Darcy and Casey Guttridge.
“We’ve got a wide, varying age group – 14 to 18 – and a lot of young girls that will develop quickly by being around that top end talent.
“We’ve carried on from the Subway Shield squad, so although this is the first academy, the work that was done and the talent that was identified and interested last year set us up, so we could be selective with who we invited.”
South East Juniors trio Izzy Marsh (Officer), Tayla Hughes (Beaconsfield) and Kylee White (Tooradin-Dalmore) and will be part of the inaugural Power squad while there are plenty of West Gippsland faces about the group including league best-and-fairest winner from Longwarry Bella Brown, Cora Lynn’s Alisha Fielder and Ellinbank’s Rylie Durham.
McDougal encouraged local footy fans to get along to Frankston next week and support the sides’ debut match this week as everyone keenly awaits the first bounce of the new competition… especially the players.
“We just want to see the girls in the game – see the competitiveness come out and start doing talent ID and talent development – there’s no real desire that we have to win at all costs,” McDougal said. “But I’m sure when the ball is bounced the natural competitive urges will come up and want to do right on the scoreboard.”
The Gippsland girls battle Geelong-Western from 10.45am on Sunday 21 February at Frankston Oval.
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