The Sydney Swans AFLW team has taken another huge step forward with SEVEN more players committing to the team.
The new Swans include NSW athletes Alice Mitchell, Maddy Collier and Sarah Ford, along with North Melbourne VFLW captain Molly Eastman, Hawthorn VFLW midfielders Lauren Szigeti and Aimee Whelan, and track athlete Montana Beruldsen, who have committed to sign to the red and white ahead of Sydney’s inaugural season, which commences later this year
It comes after the Sydney Swans last week announced QBE Sydney Swans Academy athlete Ruby Sargent-Wilson as the club’s first AFLW player.
Sydney Swans AFLW senior coach Scott Gowans said he’s thrilled to welcome the new players on board as the team starts to take shape.
“It’s really exciting and it’s a step in the right direction from a list build perspective,” Gowans said.
“You’re starting to put people into positions and know what you now have and what you can build on – until you get that first group you don’t know whether you need a ruck or midfielder.
“It’s terrific to have people that want to come and learn about the culture and help grow it.”
Our new Sydney Swans
Recruited from: Gunnedah Bulldogs
Sydney local Alice Mitchell put her hand up for selection after impressing throughout the Summer Series while playing for ‘Swans Red.’ A former Mosman Swans player, Mitchell moved to Gunnedah to play with the Bulldogs and went on to win their local championship in their first ever women’s team.
“Alice is a tall defender who can go forward,” Gowans said. “She has elite hands and a left foot that can find targets. We like that she takes the game on, and she works hard to grow her craft.
“We have Gunnedah volunteer Alan Martin to thank for alerting us to Alice. We watched her closely during the first game of the Summer Series and gave her some feedback on a few things to try. She executed on those in her performance in the Summer Series matches in Canberra, and that got her over the line.”
Recruited from: West Coast Eagles
Athletic forward Maddy Collier will add depth to the side. The former UNSW player represented GWS on 15 occasions before playing 19 games for West Coast Eagles. Collier has played in the red and white previously, representing the Sydney Swans in a women’s exhibition game in 2016.
“I coached against Maddy and noticed just how tough and hard she is in the contest,” Gowans said. “She shows great leadership on the field and she’s a great communicator. In selecting Maddy, we knew that we would have a player that we could help drive the on-field learning for the younger girls.
“Maddy is a Sydney local and former UNSW player, but she’s based in Perth playing for the Eagles this season. We’re fortunate to have UNSW as a club partner as they are assisting with education transfers and sourcing accommodation for the players, like Maddy, who are relocating from interstate.”
Recruited from: Essendon
Sarah Ford strapped on the footy boots in 2017 and immediately made an impact, making the AFL Representative team that year, while also winning the East Coast Eagles best and fairest. In 2019, she made the AFL Sydney Team of the Year, which earned her a spot on the Giants VFLW side. Named a train-on for the Giants in 2020 and 2021, Ford headed to Essendon to develop her skills in their successful program.
“Anyone who moves interstate to develop their career to me already ticks a couple of boxes,” Gowans said.
“Sarah went to Essendon where they have a really good program. They’re very successful in the VFLW and she was one of the better players that year. Sarah’s an inside midfielder, a small quick, she’s got the skills, but she’s also got the game IQ which I like as well.”
Recruited from: North Melbourne
Captain of North Melbourne’s VFLW side Molly Eastman will also bolster the team in experience. Runner-up in the 2021 North Melbourne VFLW best and fairest, Eastman enjoyed a standout season in 2021, averaging 21 disposals per game.
“Molly is a long-term VFLW player who has just missed out in the last couple of drafts. She’s been a train-on for North for a couple of years now where she has learnt about the elite traits it takes to be an AFLW player. It’s exciting to give her the opportunity to play AFLW. I really like how she approaches situations; she’s taken a lot of knock backs but hasn’t given up. Instead, she’s gone and developed herself to where I think she is a readymade AFLW player,” Gowans said.
Recruited from: Hawthorn
Lauren Szigeti has played in the VFLW for the past three seasons, representing the Darebin Falcons before signing with Hawthorn ahead of season 2021. A versatile player, she’s been a key ball winner for the Hawks this season.
“I’ve known Lauren for a long time,” Gowans said. “I’ve coached her previously in 2016 in the under 18s. She’s a young talent and has played a lot of footy in her life. Similar to the others in that she hasn’t had the opportunity to play AFLW level but got herself really fit this year. She can play through the three lines, but we see her as more of an inside mid, with perhaps a bit of time in the forward line as well.”
Recruited from: Hawthorn
An experienced and fierce midfield competitor, Aimee Whelan represented Williamstown in the VFLW in 2021. She was one of only five players to play every game for the Seagulls, averaging 15.9 disposals, 7.3 tackles and 4.3 clearances. She signed with Hawthorn ahead of this season where’s she has continued to show strong form.
“Aimee has played a lot of footy,” Gowans said. “She’s a mature-age pick, and like Molly in that she just needs an opportunity at the AFLW level. She missed out on a couple of drafts and got herself super fit this year and has played good footy at Hawthorn as a midfielder.”
Recruited from: Hawthorn
Originally from South Australia, Montana Beruldsen’s background is athletics. She has excelled in the 100m and 400m hurdles, competing at the national level, while she has also competed at a high level in a range of other disciplines including the heptathlon. Beruldsen joined Hawthorn’s AFLW Academy last year and has played in the Hawks VFLW side this season.
While Beruldsen is limited in her AFL experience, her athletic talent caught Gowans’ eye.
“Montana has only played five or six games of AFL in her life. She’s a 400m hurdler at national level and she’s an elite athlete, so we think she has the athletic ability to develop and grow. Montana’s growth and limited time in the Hawthorn VFLW program has been amazing. She finds the footy, she has natural instinct, and we think we can develop that into something really special.”