New Vic Metro under-18 girls coach Andrew Shakespeare is excited by what his side can produce at the NAB AFLW under-18s National Championships.
With the introduction of the AFLW and girls TAC Cup competition this year, the talent coming through is getting stronger and stronger.
That has flowed through to the Metro side which is looking to defend its title they won on the MCG last year.
Shakespeare said he was just as excited as the girls and was looking forward to see what they could do. Their first match is on Saturday against Vic Country.
“The girls are hungry to learn and want to be educated,” he said.
“We’ve noticed the standards have stepped up a level this year, especially in preparation.
“A challenge for the girls has been managing their bodies, as they’re playing so much more football.
“It’s been a real learning curve for the girls.”
It will be a different looking side to the one that played last year, with players moving out of the age group and a realignment of the country and metro boundaries.
Several players will be representing Metro for the first time which adds to the excitement. Only about a fifth of the squad was part of last year’s squad, which defeated Western Australia 95-0 in the grand final.
Shakespeare, who was previously coach of the Northern Knights boys side, said there was a real mix of top and bottom age players who had stood out so far and he expected to shine at the championships.
He said Calder Cannons and Sunbury Lions young gun Madison Prespakis had set the standard. She was one of Metro’s best last year.
“Olivia Flanagan is already playing VFL and standing out at that level,” he said.
“Georgia Patrikios, is a bottom age player, who plays on the wins and has some real class by foot. Molly Warburton is a strong defender
“Laura McLelland and Hannah McLaren have real potential, while Neve O’Connor is really hungry at the contest in the ruck.”
One player missing is Monique Conti. The Calder Cannons star won’t play due to being selected to represent the under-19 Australian Gems basketball team.
Despite a new squad, Shakespeare said they were still set on trying to take out the championships.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity for the girls to showcase their talent and we want them to enjoy playing football.
“We had a camp with the country girls and we really wanted to get a Victorian flavour and come together as a group.
“On Saturday, the gloves will be off though. We want to get the win.”