The Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels would be happy with their 2017 season, winning three games out of five to finish seventh on the ladder. The Rebels burst out of the blocks, with a thumping win over the Western Jets in round one, and continued their solid campaign throughout the season. Lauren Butler was a standout for the Rebels, playing every game of the season, while teammate Georgia Clarke was still a star on the field, despite only playing three games. This is because Clarke is in the AFL Women’s Academy, and a top draft prospect this year.
Rebels female talent manager, Krista Woodroffe says that Clarke and Butler’s impact on the club goes beyond the field of play, as the players are learning a lot off them.
“When those girls get to train with the likes of those girls (Butler and Clarke), they just get pumped that little bit more, and then they take a lot of what they learn back to their local club, which is really exciting,” she said.
After her stunning season last year, Lauren Butler has been named captain of the side, and Woodroffe hopes that it will help to develop her leadership skills, as well as her footy skills.
“[Butler is] a very fantastic player, and I think she will benefit from a season of TAC Cup footy,” Woodroffe said. “She [Butler] is really going to take that [the captaincy] on board, and I think that will really help her move forward as a leader as well.”
According to Woodroffe, the girls are really feeding off the experience and leadership traits of their AFLW Academy members in Clarke, Rene Caris and Sophie Van De Heuvel. Woodroffe is hopeful these girls can liaise with the bottom-age players to develop themselves not just as footballers, but as individuals.
“We’re looking towards the talent of the future while progressing the talent of those girls who could potentially be eligible for the draft at the end of the year,” she said. “I think the most important thing for us is to build good leaders, and then footballers second.”
The Rebels have plenty of talent streaming from many other sports, including rowing, netball and athletics. Top-age player, Tara Jasper hails from both athletics and netball, and Woodroffe is excited about what the season ahead holds for her.
“This will be her [Jasper] last year in the program, so I really think that we can really showcase her speed and agility, and get her to be a better footballer as well,” the female talent manager said. Woodroffe is also hoping to “get some eyes on her” throughout the season, as she is a promising footballer, despite coming from two different sports.
Going into 2018, Woodroffe is not concerned about wins. Instead, she is optimistic about the season ahead, and hopes that the girls can grow individually.
“I think as a program, the win-loss is just a bonus for us,” she said.
“It’s more about the development of the players we have.”
The Rebels are also focused on emphasising the importance of schooling to the girls, and Woodroffe says that her and the coaching staff communicate regularly with the girls to find out how they are tracking.
“Pretty much at the start of every season, we get the girls to list down what they’re doing at school – so what year they are, their electives and any alternate sports they play outside of footy,” she said. “This time of the year is really important for them, so we don’t want them to change, we just adapt our program them to suit them.”
Woodroffe also hopes to help them progress beyond the program, which is a credit to the work of the coaching staff at GWV.
“So in terms of our conditioning and those sorts of things, and then when it comes to games, that’s where we speak to their (local) coaches and let them know what their capabilities are and what we need from them to ensure that they can continue both sports and continue to flourish in those sports as well,” she said.
The Rebels face off against the Eastern Ranges in round one, who were even in terms of wins and losses with GWV last year.