It was a young and new looking Williamstown team that stepped out onto the field for the start of the Victorian Football League women’s season on Sunday.
Just eight players from the 2019 squad have returned, with 32 new faces making up the rest of the team.
For coach Penny Cula-Reid,getting out on the field has been a long time coming. The former Collingwood VFLW coach was appointed the Seagulls coach after the 2019, but due to COVID-19 the weekend was her first official game coaching the side.
“Exciting is an understatement,” she said ahead of the first game.
“It’s been 12 months plus in the making. It’s been a long time.
“It’s super exciting for the girls to wear the Williamstown colours and be back on the footy field.
“To have a run around and have a kick with some friends. It will also be good to have some spectators at the ground.”
Cula-Reid said they went through a recruitment process ahead of the season focusing on local players in Melbourne’s west.
She said they wanted to be a destination club for players in the west who want to take their game to the next level.
Erin Meade will captain the side and is joined by a couple of other returning players, Eliza Straford and Ruby Tripodi, in the leadership group.
Liz McGrath, Ashlea Melnikas, Scarlett Dunell, Tahlia Merrett and Lauren Suleiman are the others who have returned.
Cula-Reid said they had all come back to the club in really good shape.
“Most of them were really fortunate to have had the opportunity to go to the Northern Territory to play football over COVID,” she said.
“One it is really good for us as a club to continue to build those relationships with external groups. And it’s good for them to get some footy under their belts and they’ve come back super strong and super fit.”
Cula-Reid said they had some really exciting prospects that had come to the club.
VU Spurs Northern Football League division 1 premiership players Aleisha Casley, Tori Snelleksz, Amy Wheelhan and Elise Muller have come across.
Claire Ryan and Lisa Loughnane are two of the club’s Irish recruits, while Allana Dickie is from Western Australia.
Cula-Reid said Gabrielle Biedenweg-Webster would be one player that you couldn’t miss with her running ability.
After a couple of pre-season hit outs, Cula-Reid said she was happy with how things were looking, but admits they still have a few things to iron out.
She said with such a young playing group, this year wasn’t just about this year, but also the future.
“Our average age is 23,” she said.
“It’s just about building connections and a strong solid foundation, not just for this year but working towards the seasons to come.
“We want to get them playing the Williamstown way and get involved in Williamstown and the Hobsons Bay community.
We really want to get them to immerse themselves in Williamstown.”
The Seagulls first match was on Sunday against Darebin Falcons.
The Seagulls winning 2.5 (17)-1.9 (15).