Maybe some AFL Bombers could take a lead from this young ladys story
Miscellaneous VFLWomen comments and articles - will take more than a broken back and 13 broken arms to stop these girls
Caruso is one of several members of the Calder Cannons who have come along the pathway to the Hangar and was the captain of the inaugural Cannons’ side in 2016.
The 18-year old says her appointment as captain was a learning curve in the responsibilities every teammate has to the playing group.
“I like to make sure everyone is included in the things that we do and that the team’s up and about,” says Caruso. “On-field, it was about providing constructive but good feedback to your teammates. Also, playing footy but playing it fairly; not going out there to hit every player but to play with good intention.
“Being a captain at Calder showed me being able to talk to different people and being able to grow from different experiences on and off the field.”
Caruso has played four of a possible five matches since making her debut in Round 1 against Hawthorn with her tackling and attack on the ball impressing in the backline. She’s not yet in the leadership group at her new club but says all the lessons she took on board at Calder have been extrapolated into being an influential player on and off the field at Essendon.
“It’s definitely something that I want to be,” says Caruso on whether such a young player can still make a mark as a leader.
“I feel like it’s the little one-percenters that you do throughout training and on and off the ground that can make you a leader - just talking, giving good feedback, getting around everyone.”
Caruso is one of 13 Bombers aged 21 or younger who are at the beginning of their senior careers and she says the purpose from such a strong crop of youth learning at the knee of the senior leaders has created unity.
“There is a little bond between us all because we’re surrounded by such influential older players. Some people have more experience than us, but we’ll learn from them. I think we all bring something unique to footy.”
With Essendon still yet to tick off its first win going into the Round 6 bye, Caruso and her teammates have had to learn the ropes of VFL Women’s fast.
“It is definitely faster and more physical,” says Caruso comparing the new standard to TAC Cup.
“You don’t have time to think, your first option is your best option. Also having a positive mindset – if you haven’t done something well, there’s always time to do something good.”
By Callum O’Connor
Over a two-week bye period, the winger has reflected on a whirlwind start to the season for the first female side to wear the red and black.
The Bombers have written the debut page in the history books in front of around 3,000 fans at Windy Hill, toughed it out in the scorching heat in Darwin and played in the inaugural VFL Women’s Dreamtime Match at Punt Road.
Lifelong Essendon fans have lived out their dreams of playing at The Hangar and youngsters with potential ahead of them have had their first taste of senior football.
However, work has only just started. Essendon’s first win is still yet to be recorded and draft prospects are still looking to prove themselves ahead of the 2019 AFL Women’s season.
Ahead of the Bombers’ round seven clash with Hawthorn, Williams shared her thoughts on how her side is travelling.
What has Essendon done well in its first five matches?
“I think we’ve done really well to find our feet as a team in terms of building team morale. We’ve had a really positive culture around the girls which has been really good. We’ve been able to work out each other’s strengths and know what each player brings to the game and know what we can use to our advantage.”
What do we still need to improve on?
“We need to play four consistent quarters. That’s been the clear room for improvement that we need to focus on. We’ve played some really good patches of footy, but it’s been patches. We need to make that consistent now and execute a game start to finish all the way through.”
Which of the younger players have most impressed you?
“I’ve been very impressed by a number of them. We’ve got a lot of girls who have a lot of talent that are coming through the ranks, they’re really exciting players to watch at a VFL and probably AFL level coming up.
Lauren Caruso, the way she goes about her footy is really exciting, she plays with a lot of maturity and plays with a calmness and collected approach to the game which I think has been really impressive.
DP (Danielle Ponter) has an amazing amount of skill and she’ll go a long way … we’ve seen some amazing glimpses of what she can produce. She’s one to watch for future, definitely.”
How has the support for the VFL Women’s team been from the club?
“The support we’ve had from the club has been amazing. From the day we walked in, we have been very respected and welcomed and there’s the sense of inclusiveness and equality amongst the club that we just couldn’t fault.
From every aspect it’s been exciting to be here and you can tell the excitement from all the different people in the club whether it’s staff, VFL men’s, AFL men’s players, everyone has gotten around us, so it’s been fantastic.”
Are the goals that you set as a team at the start of the season still the same?
“Yes they are, in that we want to play the best brand of footy that we can. We always knew that we had quite a young list with varied levels of football experience coming into the team, so we have a strong focus on development of younger players.
Obviously, we want to get wins on the board between now and the end of the season but it’s all about playing the best footy we can, firstly as a club and secondly as individuals as well.”
Lastly – how have you found being captain?
“I’m loving captaincy. We’ve had a very, very competent and experienced group of players in the leadership group who’ve been amazing leaders and support, as well as many individuals in the playing group who have stepped up as leaders too … (Brendan) Major, Sony (Michael Ericson), Josie (Smith) and LJ (playing assistant Lauren Morecroft) as a coaching group and Ash (Brown) as our footy ops manager have been amazing to work with.
The girls have taken on every challenge with open arms and loving the way that we’re gelling. We’ve got a lot of growth and development from this point on but it’s really exciting to be leading the girls but also to be working alongside them and have everyone playing their part.”
By Callum O’Connor
And then she got dropped the next week!
There was no time for nerves: Warburton started on the field and charged off the half-back line into the first stoppage to lay her hands on the ball and get a kick forward.
“I like starting on and just going straight in,” said Warburton, whose football resumé includes two years of TAC Cup experience at the Calder Cannons and a place in the initial Vic Metro squad for the AFL Youth Girls’ National Championships.
“I felt like I could play at the standard.”
From there, any hesitancy was blown out of the debutant. She finished with five touches, four tackles and two marks and although the Bombers were outlasted by the fourth-placed Hawks, Warburton walked away from her first foray in VFL Women’s with her head held high – and a place in her side’s best on the day to boot.
“I loved it,” reflected the young defender on the new standard.
“It’s a lot faster than I was used to and you had the bigger bodies going in there. It was good to be able to play my game with some really good support around, like LJ (Lauren Morecroft), who’s been showing me the ropes.”
Crediting her experience at Calder as a learning curve that “built the foundation”, Warburton is one of six players aged 18 or under on the Bombers’ list. All have now made their debuts at the end of round seven.
Warburton was one of three Essendon debutants in round seven and was presented with her playing guernsey by captain Lisa Williams before the team in the rooms before the game.
Alongside her in playing her first VFLW match was fellow Cannon and Vic Metro selection Carla Rendelmann, with whom Warburton has shared the better part of her football journey for two years.
“It was special,” Warburton said. “We’ve come through Calder, we’ve been together at Essendon and just been with each other, so it was special to debut together.”
Essendon will play the Casey Demons in round eight in a VFLW/M double-header at RAMS Arena in Craigieburn from 11.30am on Saturday.
By Callum O’Connor
@Catherine_Lio just a query… I have the VFLW add on with my membership but I don’t get any info about the girls from the club. Everything is sourced from here and socials. My particular concern is the player sponsorship was launched recently, but I heard nothing. I have heard that stuff is going to the EWN but not to us ‘add-ons’, is that accurate?
Does anyone else here receive more info about the VFLW? if so it could be an issue that I need to sort out separately.
Thanks in advance.
Hey Hof! Glad to hear people that purchased the add on are also interested. Let me follow up and come back to you if that’s ok?
That would be great, thanks.
Kinda the short version of the story four posts up:
Bec Neaves was just shy of turning 21 when she came to Essendon. In her senior career at former VFL Women’s club the St Kilda Sharks and the inaugural Western Bulldogs’ AFL Women’s list in 2016, she had played predominantly as a winger who could pinch-hit as a forward.
Yet in her time at The Hangar, she has not only redefined herself as a defender but carved out a key place in the Bomber backline.
“As we’ve gone on, everyone’s feeling more comfortable,” Neaves said as she reflected on the growth of the defence.
“We’re quite a selfless group, so we really work together well. We talked about how we can help each other.
“I think that really helped us develop as a group, and then we work to improve us as individuals.”
Neaves’ aggressive attack on the ball, sure hands and consistency have proved valuable assets in the backline.
In a side that has often found itself under pressure from more experienced opponents, a preparedness to address flaws and maintain composure while developing has been a must.
Neaves says that such collective commitment was the genesis of Essendon’s breakthrough win over Richmond in round nine.
“It was up to us to not let them get forward, it didn’t matter how may touches you got,” she said of a final quarter in which Richmond didn’t kick a goal despite dominating forward entry.
“It was all about us stopping it. We all got around each other, we knew we had a job to do and it just clicked and really worked for us.”
After going down to the Western Bulldogs by a straight kick, Essendon comes up against two-time reigning VFLW premiers the Darebin Falcons in round 11.
“It would be a massive achievement,” she declared of the proposition of beating the Falcons.
“I’ve never beaten Darebin, last time I played them was at the St Kilda Sharks – we lost to them in the prelim by a goal and that was the closest we’d ever come.
“Now that we’ve got that win we really want to keep pushing. Everyone’s willing to take it on and use their strengths so I definitely think coming into this weekend that everyone has that belief that we can win.”
Essendon will play Darebin this Saturday from 12pm at Bill Lawry Oval.
By Callum O’Connor
Any news on Michaela Long and Stephanie Hird?
I heard James Hird refer to them in passing on the Crawf and Hirdy podcast recently, but no details.
Anyone know if they are playing somewhere and how they are going?
Anyone seen them at training?
Long is with Diamond Creek and Hird’s with Old Geelong. Suspect they did not play Australian Rules in their early days
I don’t think Michaela Long can be regarded as a newbie, was reported to have knocked back AFLW offers because she only wanted to play for Essendon at that level.
She has been a player in the NTFL as well with the below clip being during the NTFL final series earlier this year, before our VFLW team got underway.
My question is what is going on for her since the start of the VFLW season, she has been around for Long walk events, but doesn’t seem to be playing, just wondering if she is injured or something else.
I seem to remember that she was injured prior to the start of the season. I can’t remember specifically what it was, but it was a complex injury.
This basic communication about the status of all the girls in the VFLW is my current issue with the club. There is just not any info (other than match day stuff) coming out of the club.
add the men’s team too. all this talk about saad maybe not getting up, suddenly conors out. riddle me that.
Not sure where to pop this, so will pop it in here - the season is nearly over but I wanted to highlight that you can sponsor our VFLW players. I just jumped on and sponsored Tait Mackrill!
Gotta love this URL…
Thanks for the info, have you had any luck in finding out about us ‘add-on’ people and Comms?
Hey! I certainly have asked. Will follow up again. Apologies, should have followed up sooner.
I too am checking the website for the fixture…
So what happens when we enter the AFLW. Do we go in with our team or do we have to select from the draft ala GWS and GC?
We lose all rights, presumably.
P.S. Ponter has been invited to this year’s AFLW combine.