Kicking goals

Emma Kearney takes the girls through their paces. (Supplied)

Tara Murray

Werribee Football Club’s new female academy were interested onlookers as North Melbourne AFLW captain Emma Kearney shared some of her knowledge last week.

As one of the best players in the women’s game, Kearney knows a thing or two about the game and what these girls have gone through.

As the first intake of the academy, the program and what it entails in a learning experience for everyone.

Werribee’s football development manager Hamish MacInnes said the focus of the program wasn’t about giving the girls more football to play, but giving them the tools to get the most out of their game.

“We have 21 regular girls in the program at the moment,” he said

“We’ve included some girls from the Western Jets and the WRFL [Western Region Football League] interleague from.

“We’re not giving them more football load, but giving them quality over quantity. We want to give them the tools that they would not have at local football.”

The program includes five sessions of different elements that will come in handy with making them better footballers.

It’s a mixture on ground work and looking at other areas that could improve their games.

“The first session was skill based and on field. It included kicking, handling and marking and some game sense things, “ MacInnes said.

“Then we look at some high performance initiatives like plyometrics, injury prevention and recovery

“Then we’ll build in some game knowledge based on the routine they go through with vision and stats and how they can build that into their games.”

Two key players in the program are Jmara Hockley Samon and Kearney.

Hockley Samon is the current Strength and Rehabilitation Coordinator at Werribee. She is also the co-director of Invicta Performance.

MacInnes said both were among the leaders in their respective industries and they wanted to provide female role models for the girls coming through the program.

“What they have in front of them are some great leaders,” he said.

“Emma has come in for her specialist coaching and her experience in the AFLW,” he said.

“One of the first things she said was to be thankful for the opportunities they were getting. Her experiences growing up playing football were very different.”

MacInnes said being part of the academy gave the girls the opportunity to get some insights and involvement into a Victorian Football League club.

He said the group had really enjoyed what they had done so far.

“We have varying levels of attendance. They fit in around the existing football talent pathways, junior football and other sports.

“It’s really nice to see they know each other well,” he said. “Some have played together at interleague and others.

“Something is really noticeable in the junior girls, they are really friendly and supportive of each other.

“In comparison to some other interleague programs where players are more internally focused, the girls are encouraging each other.”

MacInnes said they would look at reassessing the program once the sessions were over before regrouping ahead of next season.

“It’s a new thing for the club, so we will look at what did work and what didn’t work.

“We’re trying to find our place in women’s football in Wyndham.

“We’ll back off over the off season, evaluate and restock. It’s important to give them time off away from football and time to do other things.

“They’ll get burnt out if they don’t do that.”

MacInnes said this was a great opportunity not only for the girls, but the club as a whole.

“It’s a great opportunity for the club to see the next level of talent coming through,” he said.

“It’s really good to see. They’re not only enjoying the experience, but enjoying each other’s company.

“The connection they’ve had with each other and the stuff is the most exciting thing.”