The first annual Tasmanian Women’s Statewide All-Stars Series will kick off over the coming Queen’s Birthday long weekend, with representative sides from the south, north and north-west of the state facing off in a three-game series.
Ahead of the opening weekend of games, hear from the coaches of all three teams as they preview the series ahead.
Coach: Angela Dickson
On the All-Stars Series…
“The buzz around it has been amazing and the girls are loving training together, loving the intensity, loving the skill of the group.
“This is a rare opportunity for these girls to be able to play against the best in the state, and for them to be able to play in a group with the best from the north, it’s lifted their standard and it’s lifted their skills.
“To be able to test themselves as a group and as individuals against the best in the north-west and the south, it’s an exciting opportunity for them and I know they’re all really looking forward to the challenge.
“I’m really looking forward to seeing what they can do out there in a couple of weeks’ time.”
On the NTFAW style of play…
“We’ve got quite a fast team so we’ll be looking to move the ball quite quickly via hand, lots of handball receives, and just showing the speed of the group and trying to give our forwards as much opportunity as we can in one-on-one situations.
“I’ve been over in Melbourne for most of the VFL season, so I’ve seen most of the VFL teams over there and the kind of style of footy that they’re playing, and we’ve tried to mimic that a little bit with our game style.
“For the AFL clubs and VFL clubs that might be looking to draft from Tassie it’s a similar style to what they’re playing over there.
“I want to be giving all of the players every opportunity to show what they can do… and I think the standard of footy will be really high and will surprise a lot of people.”
On the challenges of a short series…
“With only two games it doesn’t really give you much opportunity to look at game reviews and do opposition analysis and things like that.
“We’ve introduced some new concepts that, for a few of the players, they’ve probably never heard of before, but we’re keeping it as simple as we can so that we’ve got some cohesion out there.
“I’m pretty confident that the girls will be able to execute it quite well and it will look like a pretty unified and structured side out there.”
On the goals for the NTFAW side…
“Initially the goal was to just create an opportunity for those high-level players to train and play at the best level that they can.
“Now that that’s what we’ve been able to do, from an individual point of view, I would love to see girls getting drafted from this.
“As a team the goal is to win it, obviously, and I really do think we’ve got a team that can do that.
“We want to be the best team in the state and I think we can be, and we’re looking forward to being able to fight it out.”
On the players to watch…
“A couple of the girls in the team have TSLW experience and Devils experience, but there are a couple who haven’t.
“One of them that hasn’t is Georgia Nicholas, she’ll probably feature on the wing for us. She’s a hard ball player, she’s got elite speed, I’m really looking forward to seeing what she can do.
“The other unknown— she’s not unknown to the northern area but probably on the statewide scene— is Alex Hall. She normally features through the mids but she’ll be floating through the backline for us over the two games, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what she can bring in that new role.
“You’re still going to have the names of Maggie Cuthbertson and Meg Sinclair, Georgie Hill, Diane Taylor from the state league, the Devils girls we’ve still got… there’s lots floating through.
“I think you kind of expect a standard from those girls, and it’s the ones that potentially haven’t played at that level before that I’m really looking forward to seeing how they go, especially with the good support around them from the players that they’ll have out there.”
Coach: Brad Willis
On the All-Stars Series…
“It’s being promoted as an All-Stars series and it is exactly that— you get the best players from across the state pitted against one another in a triangular series, and to my knowledge this is the first time that this has happened in women’s footy.
“I know from working with my squad at the moment, they’re really relishing the opportunity to play. There was something like 89 girls nominated for the squad and we’ve brought that down, but there was only one who made themselves unavailable. There’s been a really good buy-in and they all want to be part of it.
“The best females in the state have not had this opportunity, so I think they see it as being pretty important in terms of showcasing women’s footy. It will be an amazing standard— those who have not had a lot to do with women’s footy, I would encourage them to come along because it will be a real showpiece for them.”
On the challenges of limited preparation…
“That would be the same with the other coaches and the other regions as well, it’s your biggest challenge.
“I know on paper we’ve got a very good side, as do the other regions as well, but it’s going to be the team that can work together and develop that cohesion that will probably be the team that comes out on top.
“You don’t like bandying about the cliché about the champion team and the team of champions, but it could come down to that.”
On coaching the best in the South…
“When you get the best players, it’s quite a humbling experience.
“I’ve spent most of my footy coaching against them, and now you get them all together and they’re all very motivated and the skill level and pride in performance is next level, so it’s exciting to coach them.”
On the SFLW style of play…
“We’ll be playing fast… we are not a tall squad but we’re very quick and we use the ball well.
“It’ll be a fair bit of run and gun. We’re not out to play any dour football, we won’t be in a defensive frame of mind.
“We’re putting together a game plan that’s very attacking.”
On the SFLW side’s goals for the series…
“We want to win. There’s a lot of pride on the line.
“We believe we’ve got the best competition here in the south, but the only way to prove that is to make sure we win, and if we play the standard of football we’re capable of we can do very well.
“We do want to showcase women’s football and the best way to do that is to be attacking and as positive as you can be.”
On the players to watch…
“You’ve got the reigning Cripps Player of the Year and leading goal kicker in Sarah Skinner from Glenorchy, she’s been playing a bit of VFLW footy at the start of this year.
“Brieanna Barwick, the Glenorchy captain, is one of my favourite players and she never, ever plays a bad game.
“Tiarna Ford, also from Glenorchy, she’s kicked a couple of bags of eight and six this year and she’s pretty exciting when she’s up and about.
“You combine that with some of the NAB girls, the under-19 girls… there’s some stars in there as well, probably headed by Perri King who’s in the AFLW academy.”
Coach: Richard Douglas
On the All-Stars Series…
“It’s groundbreaking to have a series like this, and I think women’s footy is leading the way to how other competitions could look at playing that high level of football.
“It’s going to make women’s football around the state better, the opportunity to play the best against the best is how we identify our young up-and-coming talent. Who knows, someone could get drafted out of these rep games.
On training with a new group…
“The advantage of the local rep teams is they actually play against each other, so they’re familiar with each other, they’re not a bunch of strangers.
“They’re seeing each other’s strengths and weaknesses, they’re seeing the way we play our football up here, and now it’s just getting them all to realise that that person from the other team that’s a real ‘s’ for them is actually going to be really helpful for them for two games of football.
“You could see the energy lift as training went on last Sunday when they realised how good the players were that they were training with.
“The vibe through the whole group was contagious and everyone was feeding off each other.”
On the NWFLW style of play…
“We’re looking at high skill, smart ball usage, giving it to someone in a better position and launching a lot of our attacks from out of the backline.”
On the NWFLW side’s goals for the series…
“The goal is to realise that just because you’re a good footballer, doesn’t mean you can’t get better, and I think that’s what they’re going to see. There’s nothing better than coming up against someone who’s actually a better footballer than you, it just improves you so much.
“I think every player that participates in this series of games will be a better footballer as a result, their team will be better, their club will be better and their competition will be better because of it.
On the regional pride on the line…
“I’m old enough to remember the old rep games, the pride is still there.
“Past players and supporters still talk about those old rep games, they were a massive point of pride for any area to be able to say you had it over another one. It’s growing and it’s only going to get better, I think.
“For this playing group, they’re the first NWFL women’s rep team, so the message to them is that you will set the tone for every other future rep team.”
On the players to watch…
“Two of my favourites because I’ve coached them are Abbie Hoiberg-Cox and Charlie Vandenberg from Wynyard, two very exciting players.
“A young girl from Devonport called Lily Johnson is a player that I’ve watched grow up kicking the football at half-time with her dad at Devonport games. Now she’s running around in a senior women’s squad and is an elite user of the football, so I’m excited to see her.
“Lila Wijesingha-Frohmader from Penguin, who I’ve coached against and watched play football, she’s also another smart footballer.
“Of course, Tayla Marshall from Penguin, our competition leading goalscorer, to see her get a chance to play at this level and having just recently played her 100th game is exciting as well.”