Falcons’ fundamentals set to shine in 2023

FUNDAMENTALS, confidence, and high standards are among the strongest strings in Melissa Hickey‘s coaching bow. The incoming Geelong Falcons girls coach is one of the most significant women’s football figures in the region, and now has her sights set on developing its next generation of talent.

With the Coates Talent League coaching roles again split between the boys and girls, Hickey is transitioning from assistant to head mentor. It’s not her first time, having also taken charge of the Vic Country Under 18 program, though Hickey says her coaching philosophy is “still evolving”.

“I’ve only ever been an assistant coach so it’s different to be in charge of the program and I guess you kind of underestimate how many little things you have to deal with,” she said. “But I definitely feel like I’m in the swing of it now and I’ve got a great team around me.

“I like to work with players on their weapons, and for them to really have confidence and own their weapons. If you’re a confident player you’re a much better player.

“I very much like to build off fundamentals. I think they’re really important especially as young developing players to have sound fundamentals and to spend a lot of time on them.

“I ask for pretty high standards as well, but I’m also just a big softy underneath it all. They’ll learn that quickly.”

There may be some learning on the run, but Hickey anticipates her Falcons will spread their wings with dash and dare this season. A relatively smaller squad means speed is one of the “weapons” Geelong will look to exploit, and there should be plenty of exuberance in a largely bottom-aged bunch.

“We’re not going to get a practice game so even in the first few rounds we’re going to be working it out,” Hickey said. “We’ve got some good runners which is always nice, so a bit of speed, (but) not a whole heap of height.

“So I think our run and our speed will be something we have to utilise… hopefully with lots of run and carry and handball receives, lots of free-flowing footy, inside 50s and scores.”

Geelong lays claim to three representatives in the Vic Country Under 18 hub, with Chloe Adams the lone top-ager of the trio. Hickey identified the hard-nosed midfielder as a preseason standout, and a potential candidate for the leadership roles which will be decided this week.

“Chloe is obviously in the Vic Country squad, she’s really outstanding,” Hickey said. Chantal Mason has stepped up as a leader, Leila Owens too. We’ve got a few girls who have been in the program for a few years now. Even Sara Howley being a bottom-ager, she’s got great leadership.”

Hickey and the Falcons will enter the great “unknown” of Round 1 on Saturday March 18 with a clash against fellow Country program, the Greater Western Victoria Rebels. The match is one of three Geelong will play at Deakin University to open the season.

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