A handful of Wagga ladies have been exposed to a higher level of football courtesy of the Women’s Winter Series.
Riverina Lions’ Kahli Abbott was joined by Charles Sturt University’s Gab Goldsworthy, Isobel Cleary and Chayse Holland in the Southern Giants team that competed in the opening round of the inaugural competition in Sydney on Sunday.
Southern Giants went down to a near full-strength Brisbane Lions team by 116 points but the scoreline did not stop the local women from enjoying the opportunity to impress in front of AFL Women’s (AFLW) talent scouts.
“It was fairly one-sided but I think given the fact we’re from Canberra, Albury and Wagga and don’t get the chance to train together, we don’t know how each other play, each other’s strengths or weaknesses, all that considered, I think we did extremely well,” Abbott said.
“The Lions had just finished their trade period and they were obviously trying out a lot of their new girls but they still had a lot of really experienced players.”
Abbott, 24, loved the experience to play against the Lions.
“I was like a little schoolgirl. It was something I had never experienced before but it was good to challenge myself against some really good, experienced players. I really loved it,” Abbott said.
Goldsworthy, who led CSU to victory in this year’s inaugural Southern NSW women’s competition, said it was a great opportunity.
“Obviously the score reflected how tough of a game it was but regardless of that it was a wonderful experience to play at that level,” Goldsworthy said.
“It was a big jump up from all that games I’ve played in before...it was a real eye opener to get an opportunity at that level.”
The Giants field two teams, Southern and Northern, in the inaugural winter series where they play against Gold Coast Suns and Brisbane Lions in a six-match competition.
Teams are made up of both AFLW-contracted players and locally recruited players and gives the AFL clubs to look at talent and play games outside the season.
The Giants held a testing session in Wagga before naming their squad. The Southern Giants, coached by Canberra’s Anthony Bourke, have training centres in Wagga, Albury and Canberra.
Brad Aiken takes the Wagga ladies for training on Wednesday nights.
Giants AFLW manager Libby Sadler said the Southern girls performed well despite the scoreline.
“They were thrown in the deep end a bit but the endeavour and intent from all of them was fantastic,” Sadler said.
Former Wagga girl Elisa Pevere and Hay’s Jodie Hicks, who both now play with Belconnen, are also part of the Southern Giants.
Cookardinia’s Alyce Parker was one of Southern Giants’ best in the loss, playing across half-back and through the midfield.
Southern Giants travel to Gold Coast next for a game against the Suns on June 24.
They finish the competition with a game against Northern Giants in Sydney on July 14.