U11 Girls 2019
Coach: Jon Armstrong
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Assistant Coach: Charles Alcock & Ben King
Team Manager: Bianca & Luke Novello
Trainer: Ben King & Julie Graney
Team Page Editor: Helen Kooloos
Photographer: Francisco Roka & Matt Williamson
A Farewell to Arms (and Legs)
What, it’s over already? But….
It was a big year for Harriet. First, she made the Top 10 for the YJFL’s Under 11 Girls Division. That’s a terrific achievement given our ladder position and strict enforcement of equal game time for every player. Then she backed up by winning the team’s Best & Fairest trophy on Presentation Day.
Runner up Best & Fairest went to Claudia, despite missing the first two matches with concussion. Her first year of competitive football too, so the future looks bright for Claudia. Best Club Person went to Lila (i.e. extra work around the club), while the Coach’s Award went to Frances (i.e. most improved).
Although the club does not give out leading goal kicker awards, I’ll take this opportunity to declare Zara the winner. Plenty more to come too.
And let’s acknowledge those who played every game in 2019: Sarah, Charlotte, Harriet, Lila, Abigail, Frances, Isabella and Inari. Those girls weren’t always 100% fit either (e.g. colds, black eyes) but soldiered on regardless. Well done.
But as I said on Presentation Day, individual accolades mean nothing without a team. Every participant is a winner; every girl can take a bow.
Now we know for whom the bell tolls: it’s farewell to season 2019. But the girls have years of footy ahead of them. Years.
Round 14 – Hawthorn Citz vs Fitzroy – 11 August 2019
We can jump puddles. No, we must jump puddles, for that was the only way to access the Kew Cemetery ground. Plus, an old-fashioned glue pot in the middle, courtesy of an old-fashioned winter.
But there was nothing old-fashioned about our girls, as they celebrated the end of their season with crazy hair and war paint. Mardi Gras?
Captain Inari led us out, ready to frustrate Hawthorn Citz who were still in the hunt for a finals berth. The centre square was extra popular, thanks to the mud, which proved entertaining for players from both teams. Simple pleasures.
Although the Citz proved too good in the end, the girls fought it out as they have all year, displaying a mix of old and new. The engine room – Lila, Frances and Harriet – was at it again, working tirelessly all over the ground. Zara’s run and carry shone out of course, now with pirouettes thrown in for good measure. And Abigail upped the ante in the tackling department by tossing an opponent away like an empty husk.
Claudia’s second quarter was simply outstanding, and Evie’s dashing runs are getting longer and more effective. Then there’s Ella’s bullocking work, in the ruck or around the ground. Every team needs an Ella.
As for the new, Isla’s defensive efforts caught the eye, with longer kicks to position added to her game. Also, Zosia, who discovered how effective close checking can be to negate the influence of a key onballer. Signs of things to come?
As Luke collected the guernseys, we wondered whether the girls could have jumped in the washing machine themselves to save time. Mardi Gras. Or is it Muddy Gras?
The one that got away
Round 13 – 4 August 2019 – Fitzroy 3.3.21 def by Glen Iris 4.4.28
We prefer natural things at Fitzroy. Free range chooks, no added sugar, solar power, and dirt. For footy, we like our dirt with some grass on top. So, it was no wonder that Glen Iris’s new synthetic oval failed to impress.
Where’s the grass? Where’s the dirt? Where are the change rooms? Plastic land, ptooie!
Following an unusual warm-up in the playground Captain Mila led the girls out. The huge fake oval took a while to get used to, and Glen Iris pounced with the opening goal. Our defenders tightened up, as exemplified by Zosia who threw herself into every contest. It wasn’t long before Mila danced into goal in characteristic fashion. Game on.
We had the better of the arm-wrestle in the second quarter as the midfield pumped the ball into the forward line. This suited Zara, who kicked a 7 point goal: missed a shot, cursed herself, then kicked a goal. Eve was a revelation in the middle as a handy lead opened up. However, a late goal to the opposition kept them in the hunt.
Glen Iris were outstanding in the third quarter, and our defence was under siege. They hit the front by seven points, but it could have been much more. Our defenders stuck close to their opponents, spoiled almost certain goals, and followed up with well-directed kick-outs.
The final quarter was intense, particularly after Isabella goaled on the run. We were only one point down, and Evie, Claudia and Lila ran themselves ragged trying to move the ball forward. But it went the other way instead and the opposition goaled just before the final siren.
We ran out of gas against a much improved Siri Nelg outfit. The winter lurgies didn’t help either, although Harriet was terrific despite a cold, and Abigail stood firm down back despite being on limited game time.
This was the one that got away. But we’ll meet again. Naturally.
We’ll go no more a roving
Round 12 – Kew Rovers vs Fitzroy – 28 July 2019
We’ve faced Kew Rovers three times this year, including the practice match. That’s enough. We’ll go no more a roving.
A sunny day at Greythorn Park, surely the largest ground we’ve played on. As the midfield was so expansive, we agreed to the Rovers’ request to play 18 a side. The extra players in the middle made for a better spectacle and gave more girls game time.
Captain Claudia led the girls out and discussed the impact of winning the coin toss. No wind? Sun in the eyes? The rotating captaincy has brought out different leadership qualities every week.
The Rovers were hard to stop in the first quarter, when the ball was locked in their forward line. But our defenders had heeded the pre-game message: to frustrate and smother every scoring attempt, thereby reducing the scoreboard pressure. Harriet saved three goals, which meant less percentage for our finals-bound opposition.
We improved as the game wore on, reducing a very good side’s scoring shots in each quarter. The interchange bench got very busy near the end, as exhausted players started to succumb to injuries. Frances, Zara and Lila had nothing left to give.
Sarah’s last quarter was her best yet, and timely with so many teammates ending up in the hands of the trainers. Lily was fearless all day, and not shy of taking on girls twice her size. And Abigail’s second half was bone-crunching: you could hear those tackles from the other side of the ground.
So, we’ll go no more a roving. This year.
Elevenses at Alfred Crescent
Round 11 – 21 July 2019 – Fitzroy 2.0.12 def by Warrandyte 9.11.65
There was a nice buzz at Alfred Crescent, with our girls being the fourth Under 11 team to enter the arena on the day. Elevenses? Don’t mind if I do.
Led by Captain Isabella, we had a full squad for the second week running. Team photos were scheduled to be taken after the match, but you have to be fit to play. Conclusion: our girls are in good shape.
Warrandyte are finals bound, so this was another big test for us. An exciting game played in a good spirit followed, and both teams walked away feeling they had given their all. The second quarter was probably our best for the season so far, restricting our opponents to a single goal. Evie’s dashes from defence were outstanding, teaming up with Claudia and others to frustrate the Warrandyte forwards.
The opposition set their best combination for the third, which saw the ball spend plenty of time in their forward zone. But stout defence from Abigail, Lila and others resulted in behinds rather than goals. The kick outs were to well-positioned teammates too, thanks to a renewed emphasis at training.
In a terrific last quarter, we outscored the visitors two goals to one. Mila and Zara danced into goals in trademark fashion, and everyone was ferocious in their attack on the ball. Special mention for our regular ‘work-horses’ Harriet and Frances, as well as Lily, who is now finding plenty of space on the field. Is she invisible?
The day concluded with the team photo shoot: get the hair right but keep the muddy knees. Perfect.
Electronic Scoreboard Dreaming
Round 10 – Camberwell vs Fitzroy – 14 July 2019
I have a dream: an electronic scoreboard dream. In my dream, function and form combine to reveal just how good our sustained effort and tackling has become. Further, all teams will respect zones and incorrect disposals will be penalised.
Captain Lily led all 22 girls on to Camberwell’s strangely sloping ground. It was cold and wet, yet we had a full list for the first time. Elsewhere, teams were forfeiting due to player shortages. But not us: our girls are ready to play regardless of the weather, school holidays, or strength of the opposition. And Camberwell is a very good team indeed.
Unfortunately, the local interpretation of ‘zones’ perplexed players and coaches alike. We were forced to quickly adjust, by permitting our girls to follow their opponent out of zone, but not initiate such rule violations themselves. But such an adjustment is difficult to master on the spot and the scoreboard was unflattering in consequence.
It’s lucky we had a full list, for several girls ran themselves into the ground. Harriet, Claudia and Frances all seemed to be running on empty, while Kitty and Pippa played some of their best footy. Isabella again proved she’s made of strong stuff.
Although the fourth quarter was dominated by the Sharks, the electronic scoreboard reminded us that all glory is fleeting. Zara cheerily observed that the scores had reverted to zero, in readiness for the next match.
Footnote: during the recent election campaign, local politicians handed our club some giant cheques to help pay for electronic scoreboards. So it’s not a dream after all, but rather, 2020 vision.
In a Misty Morning
Round 9 – Fitzroy vs Kew Comets – 23 June 2019
Back at Cox Oval. It’s freezing cold. And lo, is that the Baskervilles, walking their hounds on the moors?
Captain Sarah is here. President Murdoch emerges from the fog. So too the unbeaten Kew Comets, weighed down with their percentage of a gazillion. A big game on a small ground in a misty morning.
Our girls were ready for the challenge, and in general play there wasn’t much between the two teams. More polish near the goals was the main difference. But that will come.
It was Lily’s turn for a break out game, in and under from go to woe. Curiously, the bleak conditions seemed to suit girls with Victorian era names, as Frances, Harriet, Claudia and others were prominent throughout.
Special mention for Claudia’s outstanding second half, which incorporated everything we’ve covered at training. Others featuring in the run and carry list are Mila, Zara and Isabella. Sure, they sometimes get pinged for running too far, but it won’t be long before they’re cutting swaths through opposition teams.
Another development: making position. Girls are starting to slip under the radar and find space, ready for team mates looking downfield. Even if they are peering through a mist.
If I had a time machine, I’d go forward 12 months. Can you imagine what our girls will be capable of by then?
A Lion-Hearted Victory
Round 8 – 16 June 2019 – Fitzroy 6.0.36 def Parkside 4.4.28
Parkside took it right up to us, which made the hard-fought win that much sweeter. We were down to 17 players too, thanks to colds and flu, plus Mila’s black eye (close encounters of the goal-post kind). But this was the chance for others to step up, and step up they did. Keeva and Eve had break out games, and several others raised their games to a new level.
A Runner entered the picture, as the coach is no longer permitted on the ground. Spock didn’t have a lot to do in the first quarter as the girls banged on three goals: Lila to open proceedings, and then Edie chipped in for a couple of rippers. The girls were up and about.
Parkside clamped down in the second, and neither team scored. Worth noting that our own girls contributed to the arm-wrestle, as Parkside needed to borrow a couple each quarter. It’s nerve-wracking to see Keeva, Charlotte and others play well for the opposition.
In the third quarter Zara kicked two running goals, part of a complete performance on the day. But Parkside still managed to creep closer, and were only nine points adrift at the final change. Down the other end Isabella’s stout defence proved crucial, as she saved a certain goal at full back.
In the fourth quarter Parkside got within two points before the girls rallied and locked the ball in our forward line. Something had to give and eventually the ball spat out to Isabella at full forward, who goaled. Saving a goal at one end and then kicking the winning goal at the other made for a good day at the office for our youngest player. Special mention for Harriet, Claudia and Frances, who were in everything all day.
Ella as captain showed a different side to the role, with a lion-hearted performance in the ruck. Her last quarter ruck work was enormous, and despite being a bit knocked about she quickly recovered to lead the team off the ground.
“They’re doing that thing again” cried a parent when Lila kicked the opening goal. Did this mean kicking goals, or tackling, or winning? Whatever it means, we like that thing.
Round 7 – The Bye – 2 June 2019
The girls were a bit annoyed to learn they had a bye in Round 7. And then they heard that junior footy takes a breather over the Queen’s Birthday weekend. What?! We want to play!
Fortunately, at Fitzroy JFC we think ahead.
Ben King is a carpenter, and one of his work-mates (Donna Sullivan) coaches St Mary’s Senior Women’s Team. So, we arranged for Donna to run a special training night for the girls. She didn’t disappoint, and introduced the girls – and coaches – to several new drills and ideas. Our regular training sessions now look a bit different as a result.
The long weekend was a different story, thanks to the annual Guard of Honour match for the Brisbane Lions. Isla, Claudia, Frances, Sarah and Abigail all participated, while Zosia was lucky enough to be selected as FJFC mascot for the day. The pictures speak for themselves on the club website. Zosia even got to wear Kevin Murray’s Brownlow Medal for a while.
Edie wins the medal; Mila puts on a show
Round 6 – 26 May 2019 – Fitzroy 3.1.19 def by Richmond 14.9.93
A good crowd turned up to Alfred Crescent for an entertaining encounter with Richmond. Speaking of entertainers, Captain Isla had some handy routines ready for the girls. Transferable to the AFLW, perhaps?
The first quarter was riveting, and we held them to one lucky goal. Things opened up in the second, with both teams moving the ball into their forward lines with fluency. Edie showed she had come to play with a lovely running goal.
In the third our defence was under siege but held firm, with several likely goals thwarted through close checking. We even saw instances of defenders hurling themselves into the path of the ball to force behinds. Bravo.
In the last quarter both sides took to run-and-carry footy. Richmond scored plenty, yet we kicked a couple too in a free-flowing display. Lila converted from a nice goal assist, and then Mila put on a little show. First there was the dress rehearsal: dancing along the boundary towards goal, but dancing a bit too far according to the umpire. Soon after came a repeat performance, and a goal. We look forward to seeing more of that.
A special mention for Ella in the ruck. I think we’re on to something. A coaching master-stroke?
The match concluded with the awarding of the Joe Johnson medals, the centrepiece of FJFC’s Indigenous Round. The Richmond coach chose Edie, who displayed the sought-after qualities of Endurance, Tenacity, Courage, Loyalty and Pride. Well done, Edie!
The School of (Football) Life
Round 5 – Fitzroy vs Hawthorn Citizens – 19 May 2019
At Alfred Crescent again. A few girls were missing, so it was great to see Keeva’s return after a few weeks on the sidelines.
Captain Eve led us out for what proved to be an arm wrestle everywhere but on the scoreboard. The first quarter was an exciting contest, with our tight defence repelling all but one lucky goal.
Citz racked up some lucky goals in the second and third quarters, but this can happen when a team has been together for a couple of years. But coaches are less focussed on the scoreboard and more interested in fierce contests in the goal square. Back in Round 1 our defenders wouldn’t have been in the goal square to create a contest, but now they’re wrestling with forwards on the goal line. This is how we learn; this is how we become a very good team.
Our fourth quarter was as good as the first, showing that fitness is improving. By this time niggling injuries had affected some girls, but they soldiered on. Edie even waved the trainer away: no-one was going to stop her playing a blinder.
Our girls are going well in the School of (Football) Life.
21-Gun Salute for Mother’s Day
Round 4 – 12 May 2019 – Fitzroy 5.3.33 def Glen Iris 0.0.0
There was something in the air at training. Every girl attended, and every girl was switched on. Zosia, Charlotte and Harriet were even a bit scary. “Hello,” I thought, “is this a sign of what to expect on Sunday?” And it was.
Led by Captain Kitty, 21 girls ran out on Mother’s Day, all sporting pink war-paint. Thanks to Bianca’s meticulous preparations, Glen Iris were confronted with colourful roaring lions.
The match day theme was movement: movement of players and movement of the ball. Faster breaks from ruck contests or tackles resulted, allowing the forward line to enter the frame. Avie knows where to position herself, and it was Avie who snapped our first goal of the season.
The pattern was established: goals were scored on the run (Harriet, Evie) or by well positioned forwards (Isabella, Claudia). But it all starts in the engine room – the midfield – where the rucks were tapping to their hungry team-mates. Inari and Mila are relishing the ruck work, while Isla’s run out of the middle set up two goals downfield. Straight to the highlights reel.
Down back, every girl made life difficult for their opponents, stopping forward thrusts with suffocating tackles and quick rebound. Special mention to Lila, who chased down her opponent to ensure they did not trouble the scorer on the day.
The last quarter put the icing on the cake. Up forward, Evie broke a pack and ran into an open goal. Then Pippa ran down her opposing gazelle in the midfield. If you’re going to put the burners on and force the error, it’s nice to do so directly in front of your screaming interchange bench.
It’s only Round 4, but already we can see the girls positioning themselves more appropriately, be they attacking or defending. As they belted out the club song, you sensed that they were thinking “I can do this!”
21 girls. 21 gun players. A 21-Gun Salute for Mother’s Day.
Round 3 – Fitzroy vs Kew Rovers – 5 May 2019
Bright and early at Alfred Crescent, playing where we train. It sure suits Harriet, who was gliding around the field as if on wheels, eluding opponents and moving the ball forward with ease. We’re looking forward to seeing more of Harriet’s Chariot.
Led by Captain Zara, the girls welcomed Claudia for her first game. We’ve been looking forward to Claudia re-joining us following a training mishap a month ago. Her defensive instincts and decent kick are invaluable additions to the team.
The ruckwork went to a new level today. Mila, Kitty, Inari and Frances have developed a taste for this noble craft, whether winning the tap or creating a contest against taller opponents. As long as we win our share of clearances their job is done. Small-sided practice matches at training seems to be working, giving the girls ample opportunity to hone their ruck skills.
Another area of marked improvement is when kicking out after opponents score a behind. The longer kickers are faster at looking for options, and their fellow defenders are getting better at making position. Calling for the ball is getting louder too.
This week the umpires rewarded our tackling, over and over again. We’ll have to start keeping count. Lily featured in a few, and what about Evie getting three free kicks in quick succession? One tackle rolled into the next.
Although the ball now enters our forward zone more, we still seem a bit surprised and don’t quite score. Hence the scoreboard didn’t reflect our strengths in the middle and down back. But that will change.
Tackles ‘R’ Us
Round 2 – Warrandyte vs Fitzroy – 28 April 2019
Fresh air and green grass. OK, enough about them.
Isla’s first game (applause) and Avie’s return (more applause). We’ve got a full list now – 22 – which will become increasingly important as the season wears on. One side-effect of having good numbers can be lending players to other teams caught short on the day. So it was that several Fitzroy girls found themselves in Warrandyte guernseys for a spell. Fortunately, they didn’t kick any goals against us!
If only the umpires had rewarded our wonderful tackling. This is an area of the game that has improved considerably, and shows that Ben King’s drills are bearing fruit. Captain Lila and Abigail are very keen tacklers, and everyone has a go.
Great to see Zara, Edie and Charlotte growing in confidence during the game, helping make our last quarter our best quarter. That’s when we hit the scoreboard too: a sign of good ball movement from down back and through the midfield.
Can’t wait for next week.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 Debutantes
Round 1 – Fitzroy vs Camberwell – 7 April 2019
Nine first gamers. Captain Zosia, Zara, Ella, Kitty, Lila, Lily, Isabella, Eve and Sarah joined their team-mates at Olney on what may be the last warm Sunday of the season. Olney is a big ground, and the Camberwell girls have been together for a while. But our girls played with intensity, and you only get that through EFFORT.
Effort was evident across the ground, from Frances bullocking her way through all comers, to Kitty setting her teeth against the tallest Camberwell girl in ruck duals, to Evie stretching her fingertips to spoil a certain goal.
As Zara observed after the game: we can be as good as them, and we’ll see what happens when next we meet. Train and play, train and play, and let the scoreboard look after itself.