Vic Metro will head to Simonds Stadium on Saturday to face Vic Country in the final Round 1 game of the NAB AFLW U18 Championships.
Both teams will be looking for not just an early victory, but also to catch the eye of recruiters, ahead of the AFLW Draft on October 18, as Mitch Wynd reports.
- CLICK HERE to view the teams
Vic Metro head coach Andrew Shakespeare believes that despite the long-standing rivalry between Vic Metro and Vic Country, the focus should be on the depth of women’s football talent in Victoria.
“Yes, we’re going to play against each other on Saturday, and the competition will be fierce, but we’ve tried to engender a strengthening relationship between Country and Metro, and when we travel to the Gold Coast it’ll be as one team,” he said.
“There’s been a philosophy that we want to really strengthen football in Victoria, and…on the day it’s going to be all on, but beyond that we’re really trying to create a Victorian philosophy among the two groups.”
With no matches between this weekend and mid-July, preparation becomes even more important than ever, and Shakespeare is confident in his squad.
“It gives us a good look at a block of preparation now, so we’ve had a good look at some of the girls and picked a side, the best side that we think we can get for Saturday, so we can have a really good look, and then we go back into another block of training,” he said.
“With the season unfolding in the VFLW, we’ve had to really manage some players as they come out of games, and that’s been a challenge. But the girls’ endeavour and their enthusiasm has been fantastic.
“I really see some emerging talent in this Vic Metro group and we’re really excited for them to have their opportunity on Saturday.”
One of Vic Metro’s most exciting players – Monique Conti – won’t be joining the side in Geelong after being selected to play in the Australian squad for the FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup in Italy.
Conti is regarded as one of the players to watch by AFL Media, along with Madison Prespakis. Shakespeare was glowing in his praise of Prespakis’ football.
“Her contest is elite, her ability to win the football is elite, and her leadership around the group is elite. Three real x-factors that you love to have in your side, and her will to win is really strong. I really like the way she goes about her football, she really enjoys herself.”
Like most involved with women’s football recently, Shakespeare is proud to contribute to the rapidly growing women’s game, and believes there is much more to come.
“I see huge upside in the whole TAC Cup Girls program, and the growth around women’s football is nowhere near reaching its zenith yet,” he said.
“It’s a privileged position, as it was when I was a TAC Cup coach. I had great pride in the young fellows I see running around today in the AFL as well as the VFL, that for me is really rewarding, seeing young men, and on this occasion women, continue to develop and grow not only as footballers but also as people.”
The match starts at 2:30PM on Saturday, June 17 at Simonds Stadium in Geelong.
- CLICK HERE to watch a live video stream on Saturday
See below a link to the teams for Saturday and the full squads.