Well conditioned Chargers set to showcase their strengths

A POSITIVE, strengths-based program is what the Oakleigh Chargers are hoping to provide in 2023, as new girls head coach Ty Vickery takes the reins. The region has undergone somewhat of an administrational shake-up in the offseason, but many of the pillars which have made the region so prolific are set to remain.

Having already been part of the pathways system as an assistant across both the girls and boys programs, Vickery is confident in the grounding for what is his first head coaching role. With their mentor “ready to go”, the Chargers have taken on a bunch of learnings already throughout preseason.

“I’d like to think that as a coaching group and a program we’re able to be really positive coaches and allow the girls to focus on what makes them good players,” Vickery said. “And not just improving that, but also putting them in positions to show it (by) creating a positive, strengths-based program that promotes development that way.

“For most of these girls it’s the first time they’ve had a program that’s three times a week, which is a really big step up. It’s been really interesting and a real learning curve for them, but they’ve really embraced it and the improvement we’ve seen in some of these girls has been really rewarding.”

At the heart of Oakleigh’s strong preseason has been a consistent block of conditioning. The results showed come testing time a fortnight ago, where three Chargers achieved top 10 results in the yo-yo test. Sarah Poustie, who notched the equal-best score of the day, also levelled the competition’s best ever result.

>> Top 10s: Coates Talent League Girls preseason testing

Vickery is adamant that all his troops’ hard work will translate further than the data sheets, and trickle out onto the field where work rate is set to be a key feature of the Chargers’ gameplan.

“We’re going to rely on a really high-paced, outnumber brand of football that relies heavily on work rate going both ways,” he said. “That’ll be underpinned by a hardness at the ball, at the contest, at the player. We think that’ll be the foundations of what our team can put forward this year.

The squad will be headlined by a strong bottom-aged crop in 2023, and that shows in Oakleigh’s Vic Metro hub representation. Recently appointed skipper Lara Hausegger is the Chargers’ lone top-ager in the state program, while Maggie Mahony and Sienna Tallariti join her as 17th-year prospects.

“Lara Hausegger is a terrific lead-by-example captain, she’s well liked,” Vickery said. “Her style of football is really tough and competitive as a half-back flanker. It was really good for her to be voted in really clearly.

“Our other Metro players are Sienna Tallariti and Maggie Mahony. They’re both bottom-age players but certainly they’re in our top three in terms of training, professionalism and standards. It’s really advanced for players their age. Their want to get better, their desire and drive are just really impressive amongst our group.”

Vickery says there may also be a couple of surprise packets among the draft eligible group. One is Melbourne father-daughter candidate Jemma Rigoni (daughter of Guy), who returns in 2023 as an over-ager having had her top-age season wiped out by an ACL injury.

“We’ve been really bullish on how she’s gone,” Vickery said. “She’s really quick, she’s tall, she’s competitive and we think she’s shown great improvement. She got a few areas of feedback from AFL clubs and the way she’s put in the work to improve those has been really positive.

“In terms of draftability, Amy Cariss-Brett played six or seven games last year but now is looking like she’s absolutely going to be well intrenched in our best team. She’s an elite runner, a good ball user and has been putting in work to get better at her contested side with ground balls and tackling.”

The Chargers are set to kick off their season in Round 3, with a clash against the Geelong Falcons at Deakin University. That’s just under a month away, giving Vickery’s chargers an extra couple of weeks to keep on conditioning in preparation for season proper.

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