With the final round of the AFLW Summer Series on Sunday in Canberra, we caught up with coaches from Swans White (Bron Gulden) and Swans Red (Kate Handley) to summarise the month of matches.
What did you and your side got out of the Summer Series?
BG: I believe the players in the Swans White squad learnt a lot about themselves over the course of the series. Understanding the commitment needed on and off field to play elite sport, patience with the uncontrollable things and that on field success comes from role playing using their individual talent within a very talented team environment.I think myself and the coaching group discovered the depth of character along with talent the squad possess and the willingness to grow and learn at every opportunity.
KH: This series gave many local players the opportunity to display their skills against some higher quality teams.It was great to see players from the QBE Sydney Swans Academy combine with the open age girls to showcase the talent from our region. The Swans Red team drew players from as far as Inverell and Coffs Harbour and we have now built solid connections across three different leagues in NSW. This will greatly assist our three coaches, myself, Nadene McBride and Terry O’Kane in connecting players from these areas to continue to showcase the talent of players from these leagues.
What were the biggest learnings?
BG: The biggest learnings for the squad was that commitment off the field is the key to consistent high level performance on field and the importance of utilising all available resources and people willing to assist.
KH: The biggest learnings for our team was the commitment required to perform at an elite level. Many girls will now know what areas of the game they need to improve which will assist them in further developing as a player. It was also great for the younger players to realise the level of commitment and determination needed to succeed.Who were your team's consistent performers?
BG: We were extremely lucky to have so many players within the group who displayed all the right characteristics required to progress to the highest level. The inclusion of senior players alongside the QBE Academy girls lifted the standard and professionalism with Emily Eaves leading the way with her consistency and attitude to playing, training and leading by example.
KH: Many girls played consistently well across all three games. In particular players across our backline that were invaluable in all three games were Alice Mitchell, Rosie Ronan-Yates and Emily Crookes.
How is a series like this is important for women’s AFL in NSW?
BG: Having this series obviously gives an opportunity for very talented players who are part of academy programs to play against senior women, some for the first time, and understand the difference between youth, club and high talent competitions. It also allows for the inclusion of older girls who are not part of these programs to have the same opportunities and exposure. Showcasing the talent across NSW also highlights how womens football has progressed and continues to be strongly represented which is fantastic for the growth of the sport within the state.
KH: This series allows female athletes from across the state the opportunity to be involved in a higher level of training and coaching to get a taste of what it takes to be an AFLW athlete.It gives young girls a goal to work towards that is achievable. The Summer Series is a great way to continue to develop and improve the standard of women’s football in NSW.