The Sunbury Lions junior girls program has added the reigning AFL Victoria senior coach of the year to its coaching panel.

Travis Hodgson has been named co-coach of the under-18 youth girls side alongside Damien Prespakis.

Hodgson, who coached Bacchus Marsh to a drought-breaking flag in the Ballarat Football League last season, will juggle coaching the Lions youth girls side and Cobras senior side in 2017. Prespakis has previously coached juniors at Romsey.

New youth girls director of coaching Ron Sikora, who had been coaching the under-18s, said Hodgson had seen first-hand the Lions program and wanted to get involved.

“I’ve been coaching Travis’s daughter the past two years,” Sikora said. “I’ve built up a relationship with him. He knows what sort of standards we set and wants to help us keep them.”

Phoebe Sikora will coach the under-15 side, having been an assistant coach last season.

“She’s been working with Dynamic Footy Skills and has done a lot of hours coaching.”

Ron Sikora was originally going to step back from coaching at the Lions this season and focus on progressing his career. He’s been appointed reserves coach at VFL women’s club Melbourne University, but his love for the Lions has seen him also appointed under-12 girls coach. It’ll be the first time the Lions have had an under-12 girls team. “I tried to keep my nose out, but the under-12s are a good age to get good habits into players,” Sikora said.

The Lions are now focusing on ensuring they have plenty of players for each side. The Lions are the only club in Sunbury to field teams from under-12s through to seniors, and they also have Auskick, which younger girls can be involved in. The three junior sides will play in the Essendon District Football League.

Sikora says they still need players for all age groups. The women will again be coached by Kerry Saunders.

“We’re doing school visits and clinics to get more girls playing,” Sikora said. “We’ve got a couple of registration days coming up and we’ve got good systems in place.”

The Lions have had 11 girls selected to join the Calder Cannons program this year. The girls’ TAC Cup competition started on Saturday, while the Cannons start their season on March 19. The Lions train Wednesdays and Fridays. Details: kdudley19@hotmail.co or 0408 557 159