The Northern Knights’ girls are pumped as their second TAC Cup season approaches.
After launching a side last season to coincide with the introduction of the girls under-age competition, the Knights are taking going to another level this year.
New coach Marcus Abney-Hastings said more than 120 girls tried out for the Knights at talent search days, with the club settling on 34 to play throughout the competition.
Abney-Hastings said the players had come from a number of different backgrounds.
“There’s a few have come back from last year’s program,” he said.
“We’ve had an influx of new girls and girls that have come from other sports.
“We’ve got a state hockey player and a state gymnast and they’re splitting their time between the sports.”
“[There’s] lots of multi sport players who are bringing different dimensions.”
Abney-Hastings said the experience these athletes have from being in high-performance programs was helping them make the transition into a new sport.
The 2018 Knights squad will have a youthful look, with only eight top-age players. Several players in the squad could be part of it for the next three seasons.
“We’ve put a lot of onus on development,” Abney-Hastings said.
“One of the positive things is there’s a number of bottom-age players who will be in the program for a number of years.
“It bodes well for whatever you want to do in football.”
Among the players to watch this season are Madeline Brancatisano, Marine Jarvis and Gabrielle Newton.
“There’s been a number that have stood out,” Abney-Hastings said.
“Maddy was really good last year and had a really good pre-season and will be someone to look at come the end of the year.
“Marine has had a good pre-season and her running is the best at club by far.
“Gabby Newton is a middle-age prospect who is also a good basketballer. She’ll be an AFL prospect in the future.”
Abney-Hastings said it was a different experience for him taking on the coaching role for a girl’s side.
Abney-Hastings replaces Rebecca Privitelli, who has moved to Sydney to play with Greater Western Sydney in the AFLW.
“I’ve never coached girls before,” he said.
“It’s different experience and been a refreshing one, and the girls have been fantastic.
“They’re thirsty for knowledge and like sponges. They want to learn and have been really good.”
The club has appointed Zoe Slatter as its female talent co-ordinator.
The Knights’ first game for the season will be against Dandenong Stingrays on March 3.