VFLW 2024 Squad

Wait, Chloe Baker-West was a double under-ager last year when she was getting insane disposal numbers?

CALDER Cannons are coming off an exciting 2023 where they essentially had three players picked early – a pre-listed Amy Gaylor and two first rounders in Kayley Kavanagh and Sarah Grunden – and now look to 2024 to see the next group of talents. We spoke with Calder Cannons coach Ross Smith at the recent Preseason Testing Day about the ones impressing him.


Kyla Forbes (Forward/Utility)
07/09/2006 | 168cm

Forbes is a player with high potential who explodes in bursts to have an impact on games. Predominantly a forward, the crafty left-footer loves to wheel around and use her penetrating kick to advantage. In 2023, Forbes also had moments through the middle where she showed promise as an inside midfielder, particularly around stoppages.

Ross Smith says: “She was in the squad last year as a 17-year-old, plays predominantly as a forward. we’ve thrown her in the midfield because she’s a powerful athlete and she can give us some clearance numbers in a short space of time. But we also don’t want to blow her up in the midfield, so we just give her short bursts in there. I think we need to expand her game a little bit this year. We’ll probably play her off half-back a little bit as well.”

Maddison Albrecht (Utility)
07/09/2006 | 160cm

One of those players that does a lot of things right, Albrecht has a terrific speed-endurance mix and really stands out when out of the field for her defensive pressure and ability to go from contest to contest. Though only small at 160cm, she has a crack, and it is easy to see why she is a favourite with coaches and teammates for that pressure.

Ross Smith says: “She’s super quick … she can play also back and forward, and thrown into the mid even though she’s small. Definitely a goalkicker. We’re working on her kicking a fair bit this year and that’s probably the only thing she really needs to work on, she’s got most of the other attributes, she’s a good long distance runner, she’s got really good speed, she’s powerful and really aggressive tackler. She’s been fantastic.”


Ross Smith says:Ava Gerada‘s another one we started playing forward last year and battled a little bit playing forward as a 17-year-old, its a bit task to play centre half-forward as a bottom-ager. We put her back at centre half-back and she made that position her own, really locked that down and finished really high in the club best and fairest in the end, so she did really well.”

Bottom-agers: Chloe Baker-West and Jade McLay

Ross Smith says: “Chloe’s a player that can just run all day, she’s a long-distance runner, she’s slightly small, plays midfield, can play half-back, probably will play more half-back at Metro I would think this year in the games, with everyone wanting to play midfield of course.

“Jade can play anywhere, Jade can play mid, back, forward. We’ve rucked her in the final against Oakleigh as we lost our ruck on the last training night. But she’s probably played all roles, she’s a really good size, a really powerful athlete, was runner-up in the best and fairest competition on the back of six games, so she did pretty well.”

Note that Manfre might not be playing vs GWS – there is some flag footy in QLD that weekend.

Let’s call this confirmation:

A quick look at some Essendon related/potential girls in R1 of the Talent League.

Calder 2.4 16 def. by Northern 5.10 40 at Highgate Reserve

#6 - Ellie Sbeghen

  • 14 disposals
  • 18 hitouts
  • 12 handballs
  • 2 kicks

#5 - Jade McLay

  • 29 disposals
  • 17 kicks
  • 12 handballs
  • 6 tackles
  • 3 marks

Oakleigh 7.4 46 def. Tasmania 6.5 41 at UTAS Stadium

#10 - Amy Cariss-Brett

  • 11 disposals
  • 9 kicks
  • 2 tackles
  • 1 mark

Bendigo had the bye in Round 1
Most of our related girls played the AFLW Academy v U23 All Stars game


Calder will play Bendigo at Bendigo next Sunday.

Oakleigh plays Dandenong at Dandy on Friday night, so I don’t expect Cariss-Brett to play VFLW on Saturday morning.

#17 Marnie Robinson
Essendon VFLW | 173cm | 08/06/2005

Stats: 12 disposals, 3 tackles, 9 rebound 50s

Another natural leader who has made her way down into the VFLW to test herself at that level, Robinson skippered the Allies at last year’s national carnival and won their MVP. In this match, she was once again having to defend bravely against a consistent attack by the AFLW Academy. She worked hard and cleared the danger as best she could, with 10 of her 11 kicks hitting the target. She often went long and down the line, making sensible decisions to retain possession.

We share Bendigo with spit FCFC. Some clubs get two clubs to themselves (e.g. Box Hill, but they mostly play AFLW players and veterans).


Lucia Painter (Utility)
23/02/2006 | 174cm

Painter is coming off a year derailed by an ankle injury. The top-end talent who is likely to be at the pointy end of the draft, starred as a 16-year-old, winning Vic Country’s MVP at the 2022 AFLW Under 17 Championships. She has proven herself as a midfielder, defender and even forward, which gives the Pioneers a great scope of versatility when it comes to slotting her onto the magnetic board. A powerful player with dual-sided capabilities.

Whitney Kennedy says: “Lou did have some ankle surgery at the backend of last year, her recovery process has been a little bit of a rollercoaster. There have absolutely been some challenging times for her, but credit to her, she’s shown great resilience and really hard work and perseverance to get through it. She’s worked incredibly diligently with our high performance and physio team.”

Jemmika Douglas (Midfielder/Forward)
20/02/2006 | 166cm

Another who unfortunately missed a chunk of last season due to injury, Douglas is coming off representing the Under 23 All-Stars against the AFLW Academy. She started in the midfield on that occasion, and will likely to so for the Pioneers before going forward. Her skills as athleticism stand out as key traits in her game and will add great support to Painter in the forward half of the ground.

Lexi Gregor (Forward)
07/04/2006 | 180cm

Gregor missed the entire Talent League Girls season last year with a back injury after playing nine games in her double bottom-age season. One of the few players to have also played in 2021 – where she played four games – Gregor is back and ready to make an impact in season 2024. While often undersized at times, the Pioneers will appreciate having Gregor’s size inside 50 to be a marking target.

Whitney Kennedy says: “Jemmika Douglas has recently relocated from Mildura down to Bendigo which is really exciting for her, and our program as well. Lexi Gregor has missed probably 12-18 months of footy due to a back injury, so phenomenal story, really excited for what her season’s going to look like. She’s back to full training, full training load, full contact.”


Whitney Kennedy says: “We’ve got a couple of others who will hopefully have some really good seasons, so we’ve got Gabby Drage. She’s a key forward, pretty exciting player, got a fair bit of X-factor and flair, beautiful set shot on goal, pretty reliable up forward for us and provides a great target alongside Lexi.

Sasha Pearce in the ruck, she’s plus-180cm and has a great ability to cover a lot of ground for a tall and has a bit of speed as well. Her aerial work is fantastic, vertical jump is great so super excited to see her. I’m sure there will be some others who will, probably not surprise us, but there’s probably three or four others who I could name. we’re just hoping that everyone has a great season and the biggest thing is that they will help each other get better.”

Chloe Baker-West played her first Coates match this past weekend. Had a casual 37 disposals including 9 inside fifties.

Forbes had 33 and 6.

In the opposing and winning team, Painter had 19 and 8… plus 2 goals.

Fellow Pioneer Jemmina Douglas topped the league with 11 rebound fifties.

Will we Bring. Them. In?

RookieMe place Douglas back pocket for Team of the Week. Cannon Jade McLay at CHB (she’s sometimes a mid), Forbes and Painter at HFF, and Baker-West on the bench.


5 – Kyla Forbes (Calder Cannons)
4 – Jemmika Douglas (Bendigo Pioneers)
3 – Jade McLay (Calder Cannons)
2 – Chloe Baker-West (Calder Cannons)
1 – Lou Painter (Bendigo Pioneers)


The Pioneers star racked up 30 disposals, six marks, 13 tackles, 11 inside 50s and kicked 1.2 in a starring role through midfield and attack. Her strength overhead has always been a highlight of her game, and she showed on the weekend how damaging she can be when on-song, bringing her own ball to the game.