Fitzroy Football Club: Great football, Great community, Great culture.

Roy Girls Ressies season review


By Fitzroy-ACU Reserves coach Nathan McLean

I have had the immense pleasure of being the Reserve Women’s Coach for season 2021 and would love to share with you all what it's like to coach these incredible women.

It dawned on me how exciting and daunting the challenge would be to lead this group this year when I asked the girls, before their first game of the season at Ramsden Street, who was playing their first ever game for the club. 18 players proceeded to put their hands in the air.

It became clear to me in that moment that developing a culture of encouragement and learning would be vital to the success of this team. Looking back, the squad's leaders were able to take this directive and make it their own, and they've put strong building blocks in place for success in Season 2022.

The profile of this team in pre-season came across as a polite, skills-focused, thoughtful group who were open to learning about football. They were, however, at the beginning of their understanding of what their bodies were capable of and early results indicated that we needed to adjust to the physicality of the game. To their credit, each week at training, the girls worked on their physical approach to the point where they became one of the premier tackling and contested ball sides of the competition. This approach was typified by the progress of one of the most exciting players at the club in Amy Webber.

In Round 5, Amy announced herself as one to watch, physically ripping the ball out of a defender’s hands to snap a goal from the creek pocket of Ramsden Street Oval. Amy finished off with 4 goals in this game, and has been a solid contributor in the Seniors every week since.

Further to this hardiness, the mental resilience of this group cannot be understated. Training numbers were outstanding every week, with 40+ players on the track aiming to better themselves; and if they couldn’t train with the group for lockdown reasons, the girls completed pilates, strength and conditioning or individual training sessions and returned to playing at a moment’s notice when given the go ahead by the VAFA.

As a final reflection, the togetherness in this group has been the platform for much of the success of the team. There wasn’t a more perfect example of this when our highly respected leader Caitlin (Whitey) White kicked a bouncing goal from nearly 40m out in Round 10, and was immediately mobbed by almost all of the on-field playing group. Lily Prowse-McKeown was so happy she accidentally headbutted Caitlin in excitement!

I'm also especially proud of our current and former Junior Fitzroy players in Nina Carden, Claudia Carter, Rebecca Filgate, Beth Jackson and Ali Kirby who, at different points in the season, were outstanding contributors and will be the future keys for the continued success of this group. If I were to list every moment that made my heart swell with pride this season however, I would need to write a novel! I should say though that the nucleus of a very special group is being formed and is already bearing fruit with a number of Reserves players improving their skills to a point where they are now contributing to the success of the Senior squad on a weekly basis.

If you will indulge me, I’d like to thank my assistant coach Simon (Uncle Simon) Jackson for his wonderful support and passion to see this group improve and share with me his experiences as the Head Reserves Coach in the past three seasons. I am a better coach for your tutelage and advice.

Thank you also to Gemma Minuz, whose support at training and on game days was wonderful. The Swiss army knife of the coaching group, coaching lines, managing rotations, timekeeper – you name it – Gemma has done it. I hope to see you on the field leading the group again soon Gemma but from everything you showed this year, you’ll make a fine coach yourself one day.

A big thank you also to my on-field lieutenants Shannon Alexander, Indiana Benjamin and Calypso ‘Pip’ Poole for outstanding efforts on the field and fully buying into my coaching philosophy. You led the team in your own ways and the success we achieved this year is in no small part to your efforts.

Thank you to Marcus and the rest of the trainer and physio team for keeping the girls strapped and ready to play, you play a massive part behind the scenes and every club needs people like you. To the board, thank you for the wonderful way in which you lead this club and set the values to which clubs the size of Fitzroy should aspire too. Thanks also to coaching director Phil Bunn for your sage words and your insights, I have learned much from you and hope to do more so in the future. A special thanks also to Julie ‘Yoshi’ Meldrum who showed outstanding mental fortitude to overcome a significant medical condition to offer support and time every week. Football clubs cannot operate without the personal sacrifice that volunteers like you make each week for the enjoyment for others, and I will treasure what you have taught me this past year.

My final thank you is to all the players. For the first time in my life, I finally feel part of a footy club and it is a truly wonderful feeling. If you have enjoyed even half as much learning from me as I have loved learning from you, I will be ecstatic. Rest up now but get ready for a giant preseason and get all your friends to come play too!

To everyone at this club, you should be immensely proud of the way in which this group of girls has represented you this year.

Here’s wishing our Senior team the best of luck for their very deserved finals appearance at Beaumaris!

Go Roys!

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