Lake Albert will return to the Leonard Cup next season, and with a new coach to boot.
Brooke Gayler has signed on to coach the Sharks after they were unable to field a team in 2023.
Returning to her junior club following the cessation of the Wagga City Wanderers women's program, it will be her first senior coaching position.
She said it was an easy decision to take on the role when asked.
"I've been at Wanderers since it's inception but Lake Albert is my junior club," Gayler said.
"I coached Lake Albert girls for the last couple of years and done a little bit of their mixed boys team, so I've still been fairly associated with the club."
Coaching the under 16s girls over recent years, Gayler said the idea of her coaching the women's side was brought up regularly throughout the year.
As rumours began to circulate that the Wanderers program may not get up for 2024, the club asked her to help re-start their women's program.
"The club have fully supported Wanderers, and if they did go ahead I would still be with Wanderers, but the fact they didn't, once that news started to spread a little bit I quickly decided that's what I wanted to do, go back to Lake Albert," she said.
With players from the 2022 Sharks team spread across different clubs, plenty of juniors to filter up, and the hopes of snagging some of the near 30 Wanderers players now looking for local teams, Gayler has no doubts they'll have enough players for the upcoming season.
"There's a lot of returning players that are keen to jump back in, we've got a pretty good club culture, a pretty good club environment and all the people are pretty good," she said.
"A lot of people will look for that."
Feeling there's a wealth of talent in the Sharks junior girls program, Gayler is excited to see them filter into the senior side in coming seasons.
Anticipating a very young squad in 2024, she's hoping experience with the young Wanderers side this year will help her take on the new role.
MORE LOCAL SPORT NEWS
Far from ready to hang up her own boots, she'll also be taking the field with the team, in her first playing-coach role.
"I think it'll be a very young side, but a mixed bag," she said.
"Playing Wanderers this year, I was one of the oldest there and I'm 24 next year, so I'm not that old, so I'm used to very young teams with very talented young footballers.
"It's about teaching different aspects of football, it's an exciting time.
"The end goal is first grade, then Madden, but to put a competitive team on field and create an environment where everyone wants to be a part of it, which is a huge thing in this day and age."
Confident she'll have a team, Gayler said the goal next year isn't to just get on the field, but to start a legacy within the club.
"You want to be competitive, and have the girls want it," she said.
"At the end of the day, if they're not enjoying it, they don't want to be a part of it, you're creating a culture, an environment.
"There's talented footballers there, so you need to develop them as individuals as well as as a team."
Admitting disappointment in the Wanderers program ending, Gayler was grateful to have another challenge lined up for next season.
"It's disappointing that the program has come to a bit of a collapse, for someone like myself, I'm a little bit older so I'm not using the program as a pathway," she said.
"I've done a little bit of coaching with the Wanderers too and the SAP teams, so we're bringing these players up, so hoping to bring some of that and that more elite level into the club level and help these girls develop as footballers at the end of the day."
Lake Albert are the second club to express their intention to re-enter the Leonard Cup competition in 2024, after Henwood Park appointed their 2024 coach last week.
Our journalists work hard to provide local, up-to-date news to the community. This is how you can continue to access our trusted content:
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.