Veteran leads the way for Bendigo youth girls team

IT has been an exciting week in female football, with the announcement of the Bendigo Youth Girls Subway Shield team.

As part of the Subway Shield carnival, which starts in Melbourne on Sunday, the girls will play a full fixture of games, visit an AFL club and enjoy a dinner at the Richmond Football Club.

The side headed to Kyneton last Saturday to take on Ballarat in a practice match and scored a convincing win.

“It was great to be able to test the waters in preparation for the carnival," said Bendigo coach Alana Wearne. "I was very impressed with the Bendigo girls in being able to come together and produce such a great result.

"I’m looking forward to some tough contests ahead and the opportunity to support the continued development of such a talented group of young people in our region.”

The squad of 23 will be capably led in their shield campaign by captain Chelsea Reeves and vice captains Ruby Campbell and Bella Ayre.

The trio bring a total of more than 17 seasons of football experience to the team and are great role models to their peers.

All three play for Huntly, and club coach Steve Dilks said he was thrilled for them.

“It’s an honour and a privilege to guide them on their journey. The girls really do drive themselves - I’m one lucky coach. ”

Reeves, now in her eighth season of AFL football, is a poster girl for the transition from juniors to the youth girls' league.

She started playing in the Auskick program, then in 2007 became the first girl ever to play for Quarry Hill when she joined the boys' under-12s. Reeves remained with the Quarry Hill boys for two seasons until she broke her leg and was sidelined for a year.

In 2009, Reeves signed up with a Huntly boys' team and the following year played for the same boys' side as well as the newly established Huntly youth girls team.

It is this passion for the game and commitment to her team that sees her rewarded with the Bendigo Youth Girls Subway Shield team captaincy.

“I felt like all the hard work I had been putting in over the past few years had finally paid off," she said of the accolade.

"Hopefully I can be a role model to my team-mates.”

The 2014 Bendigo Youth Girls Subway Shield team is: Chelsea Reeves, Ruby Campbell, Carnie Edlin, Katrina Whittle, Molly Metcalf, Georgia Coverdale, Grace Andrea, Jaime Sawers, Marla Neal, Grace Edlin, Tarsha Graham, Aisling Tupper, Alicia Rooth, Briana Eyles, Charlotte Edlin, Ashlee McLeod, Ashlea Hampton, Tiahna Cochrane, Isabella Ayre, Chonlathorn Meemusour, Chamika Sadler, Sarah Welsford and Ainslie Kemp.   

In other football news, the Bendigo Thunder women's team will play a practice match against the Eastern Devils at Marong Oval on Sunday, April 13, as they prepare for their first season in the Premier League competition.

Thunder's season launch will be held at 7pm next Friday, April 11, at the Kangaroo Flat Sports Club. Anyone interested in supporting the side and signing up for membership is welcome to attend.

Finally, I was warmly welcomed at Huntly Primary School last week to host an AFL football clinic with girls aged 9 to 13. The girls were very quick learners and really enjoyed the chance to get their hands on the footy.

Thank you to the Huntly Primary for giving me the opportunity to promote youth girls' football to its students.

Grace Campbell is the AFL Victoria-Bendigo Advertiser Female Football Ambassador. Schools interested in Grace hosting a girls' football clinic can contact Tony McNamara on 0419 103 178.

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