Role models crucial in development of women's game
Eight WA prospects will hope to impress AFLW clubs in Sunday’s draft combine at Curtin University ahead of the AFLW draft, which is slated to be held in December.
WAFC talent pathways coaching specialist Trent Cooper believes the talent in junior women’s football will ensure the AFLW competition continues to improve.
Cooper told Sports Breakfast the importance of role models in the AFLW competition had been critical for the development of the women’s game.
“Even last week, we were out watching the 14 and 15-year-olds, they had their carnivals for their respective WAFL side, and I would be confident in saying that standard is now where the Rogers Cup, the colts for 17 and 18-year-olds, just three years ago,” Cooper said.
“The 14 and 15-year-olds, they were six and seven when AFLW started, so for them it’s always been there, it’s always been something they could actually see.
“Just the fact that girls are kicking the ball at recess and lunchtime now for fun is a huge part of that improvement and it’ll continue to improve.”
The AFLW draft operates under a state-based system where players can choose to either make themselves eligible to clubs in their own state or the entire competition, with Cooper saying he expected most of the WA crop to go to either West Coast or Fremantle.
“Some of them might broaden their chances and nominate nationally because they’re happy to play anywhere,” he said.
“The money still isn’t ideal to move interstate, they’re not paid a full-time wage, but some of the girls are more than happy to take that opportunity to get on a list and see how they go from there.
“I think they’re hoping for 2027 or 2028 when they’re at that level where it’s enough to be your profession, but in the meantime, they’ll need to work to subsidise their footy salaries.”
Of the WA prospects, Cooper said he expected East Fremantle’s Georgie Cleaver, Peel Thunder’s Kaitlyn Shroj and Claremont’s Ella Slocombe to figure at the top of the draft board.
“Georgie’s a utility player and no one knows what her best position is yet. Once she gets into an AFL system, I think she’ll really flourish,” he said.
“Kaitlyn Srhoj’s been highly touted all the way through. She can play inside but really like her on the wing or at half-back, tall player with good speed, depth of kick, and can mark it overhead really well.
“Ella Slocombe’s the one that’s probably come out of nowhere, she was borderline to get a game with the WA state 18’s this time last year. She’s worked really hard, she’s an elite endurance athlete, really good speed, and she had a really good season. She’s had a few injury problems but she’s the one that’s really shot up the rankings.”
The official date of the AFLW draft is still yet to be confirmed.
IMAGE: Rookie Me Central