BENDIGO has a new female football ambassador for 2014 - decorated former Huntly youth girls champion Grace Campbell.
As she prepares to line up for her first senior season with Bendigo Thunder, the 18-year-old has taken on the role of promoting the sport to local women and girls.
The ambassador program is a joint venture between AFL Victoria and the Bendigo Advertiser to increase the number of females playing footy in the region.
Campbell will write fortnightly columns for the Advertiser, starting on March 6, featuring youth girls, Bendigo Thunder and school football news.
There are plans to expand her coverage to include video blogs and photo galleries from training nights and other football events.
Campbell will visit primary and secondary schools to conduct skills clinics for girls, as well as attending Auskick sessions, School Sport Victoria games and interleague matches.
The on-baller is among the most celebrated players to come out of the Bendigo under-18 girls competition since it began in 2007.
A two-time league best-and-fairest winner, Campbell led the league's goal-kicking list in 2012, played in four grand finals and represented Victoria Country at the national youth girls carnival last year.
She lined up for Bendigo in interleague matches for four years and her tenacity, hardness and ability to control the play often saw her awarded best-on-ground honours.
Campbell will combine her off-field duties with studying for a nursing diploma at Bendigo TAFE.
"I'm really keen to promote the game and get more girls involved," she said. "I love the physicality of football and I just generally love the game.
"I want to help strengthen the local league so when we go to representative carnivals we are really competitive."
She takes over from Thunder team-mate Emma Grant, who has started a teaching job.
Schools interested in Campbell hosting a girls' skills clinic should contact Tony McNamara at AFL Victoria Country on 0419 103 178.