JUST as the AFLW teams are starting to gear up for another crucial season, things are also dial up for big tests over the other side of the world too.
Over in the USA, the national women’s Australian Rules football teams are preparing for an important tournament later this year, with everyone no doubt looking ahead even further to the even bigger prize of the International Cup next year.
A group of the country’s finest footballers gathered recently in Philadelphia, all keen to impress head coach Christina Licata and her coaches ahead of the 49th Parallel Cup against Canada later this year.
The 49th Parallel Cup – a longstanding regularly scheduled test match between the two North American neighbours – is set to take place in August, and is finally back on the calendar for the first time since the pandemic.
The USA is set to send two teams to the women’s Cup – the Freedom (Seniors) and the Liberty (Reserves), who will play the Northern Lights and Midnight Suns respectively. Despite the way the Parallel Cup began – with a huge win to the Americans – Canada now lead the head to head series 4-2, and are the most recent winners of the Cup after a narrow win in Florida in 2015.
Licata – head coach of the national side since 2018 – is certainly excited about playing Canada again, and what is sure to be an exciting 12 to 18 months for the group.
“We look forward to battling Canada this August and to all the great things ahead for this talented group of footballers,” Licata said.
Licata said that that the group certainly got through a lot over the weekend long camp.
“Players vying for selection participated in fitness and skills assessments on Friday and competed in games on Saturday and Sunday,” she said.
“Line strategy and skills drills complemented the gameplay throughout the weekend. We, of course, ended the weekend with a bit of fun and some awards. The program’s values of Hard Work, Openness, and Team First were on display all weekend both visually and through the players themselves.
“Coaches assessed players’ decision-making, fitness, technique, and mental toughness in what proved to be a long and physically gruelling weekend. Post-camp coaches will analyse vision from the weekend, compile individual feedback for all players attending, and ultimately choose a Training Squad that will represent the USA Freedom in our Senior and Reserves teams at the 49th Parallel Cup against Canada.”
Licata was also pleased with the variety of talent and home clubs the players came from within the camp attendees.
“Players represented thirteen local teams from around the United States, including the Austin Crows, the Denver Bulldogs, the Minnesota Freeze, the New York Magpies, and the Sacramento Suns to name a few,” she said.
“Experience ranged from first-year players to veterans with over a decade of playing time in US. Over 65% of attendees were completely new to the National Program this year. The coaches were thrilled to see so much new talent at the camp. It is a testament to the work that is being done by women at the grassroots level to build their local teams and grow this amazing sport in the US.”
The 2023 Women’s 49th Parallel Cup will be held on August 19 in Racine, Wisconsin, with the men’s matches set to be held a fortnight prior. There is plans in the works for the matches to be streamed, but that is yet to be confirmed at this stage.