Before the first bounce of the new-look under-18 football competition the Calder Cannons declared they were “ready to run”.
And run they did, winning the opening round of the NAB League Girls competition against Western Jets.
The Jets held a one-point lead at quarter-time on Saturday but the Cannons used the breeze in the second quarter, kicking three goals to none to open up an 18-point lead.
The Cannons kicked the only goal of the second half, to win 5.7 (37)-1.4 (10).
It was all single goal kickers for the Cannons, with Georgie Prespakis and Makeisha Muller named their best.
The new competition, which replaces the TAC Cup, will focus on football and providing support in education, wellbeing, high performance and coaching, while increasing opportunities for talented footballers to reach their potential on and off the field.
Speaking before the game, Cannons girls talent co-ordinator Russell Humphrey said the group was ready to take to the field for the real stuff.
He said they had been happy with the pre-season and the squad they had put together.
“It’s so good, so far,” he said.
“As a group we’re ready to run. We’ve got a group of 38 players in the end, with 10 under 16 players and 28 under 17s and under 18s.
“We have noticed the under-16 players right across the board are a little more talented than the 17s.
“I think it will continue to happen every year. As we look to grow the competition and AFLW, the girls at the bottom have to be more talented.”
Humphrey said this year’s group was a bit taller and more athletic than the group which finished 10th last year.
He said that was the direction of the game at the moment.
“The philosophy of the new competition is more about developing players than result-driven.
“Though if everything goes right, the results will be better than last year.
“We’ve got a taller squad this year. We’re playing a bit of catch up this year as other teams went that way last year.
“Girls footy used to be the little bull who would win the ball, now it’s more the athletic player who can run and kick.
“In two years’ time it will be different again.”
Humphrey said although it was early in the season he believed they already had five or six players that would be on the draft radar.
Georgia Patrikios, who is in the AFLW Academy, is expected to be the Cannons’ best draft possibility.
She was last year named in the TAC Cup team of the year.
Makeisha Muller, Alana Barba and Krstel Petrevski are among the other possible draftees.
While the Cannons have just kicked off their season, a few former Cannons are making their impact in AFLW.
Madison Prespakis has dominated in her first year in the AFLW competition and has been nominated for the rising star award , as has another former Cannon, Sarah Dargan.
All five former Cannons who are playing in the AFLW have received nominations for the rising star award over the past three years.