Developing players and our club culture were key goals for the Falcon’s 2021 campaign and there has been plenty to take away from the season. The club celebrated significant player milestones, debuted a record number of players to state level competition, alongside some of the legends of the game who have starred in the national competition, and played some great passages of exciting footy along the way. The club built the 2021 campaign around values, and the mantra of United, Relentless, Respect, and continue to be a fierce contributor to women’s footy as the only independent women’s club competing in the VFLW.
Above: Coach Mitch Skelly talking to the team. See all the 2021 coaching and support team here.
Right: Captain Stephanie Simpson leads the team onto the ground. See the full 2021 team list here
It was a nervous start to the year for the whole competition, with further interruptions for group training and competing. State COVID lockdown at the start and finish, resulting in a belated and incomplete fixture for the first 6 weeks, and further delays in the final month, including having to play without supporters and spectators at one of the matches. The club rose to the challenges of immense uncertainty, with so many last minute changes, and the players similarly had to rise in commitment and passion to take their opportunities to play at the elite level.
We did a really great job of not letting injuries, tough weeks or lockdowns get in the way of how we wanted to play football each week. Apart from the obvious challenges that Covid threw at us, our main challenge was trying to play as much football together as possible.
We are such a new and young group and as the season went on and we learnt more about each other, it really felt like that translated on the field.
Sarah Hammond (centre) with VFLW development players (L – R) Stephanie Elamarly, Julia McCardle, Sophia Padovano and Peppa Poultney.
One of the main features of the year was the opportunity for many Falcons who made their debut this year at VFLW. It was exciting to see progression from last season for U18’s premiership players, Steph Elamarly, Julia McCardle, Peppa Poultney and Sophia Padovano and from the NFNL Division 1 side Sabine Cowley Du-Parquet, Alice Caddy and Rachel Harris. Also new on the VFLW playing field in 2021 were Angelique Reibelt, Georgia Wilson, Iliana Zafiriou, Katelyn Hazlett, Katie Mcaloon, Lauren Camilleri, Lucy Schneider, Manaia Huta, Mikayla Meyer, Stephanie Normington-Dickens, Vanja Smiljanic.
I know for me personally a goal has been getting to know new structures which I’m sure is the same for many others reasonably new to footy. I think another goal has been to come more composed with the footy which I believe has been achieved in the last couple of games.
I believe our goal of being united as a team has definitely been achieved as we 100% support each other and remain positive as one even when we are facing adversity such as multiple losses in a row.
The highlights reel from this season will feature the younger players who showed their talent and footy skills, playing without fear, and the growing connection between players to bring defensive intensity and hard running to support, as well as some fine leadership from the more experienced players directing play and commanding the team. 2021 saw milestone achievement games from Stephanie Simpson, Samara David, Nicole Callinan, Jess Dal Pos and Rachel Hibbert.
The highlight of the season has definitely been the win over North. However, challenging and matching it with some of the top teams like Port Melb has been really awesome. We play a great brand of footy.
It was a tough year for the squad also in terms of some significant and season ending injuries. Without any footy last year and further interruptions to the 2021 training and matches, the squad at times struggled for the consistency, as well as the self-belief and confidence, required for the elite level. With many new changes and dynamics in women’s football happening at national level, the state level will be expecting some changes, and some more challenges in the next season. The club is committed to building our VFLW program, to promoting structures and culture for players to develop as an elite football player, and contribute to the team representing our community.
The key for this squad would be to stick together and believe in themselves and the process. With so many players either new to the level, or with less than 10 games under their belt, there is so much upside to the group. The VFLW Falcs were committed to the values set early in the year – United, Relentless, Respect – The players should be proud of the way they carried themselves throughout.
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