Gillon McLachlan could be a man that we could have easily hated for his statement that a National Competition for Women would commence in 2017 instead of the previously forecasted 2020. Instead his “kick in the pants” technique has probably proven to be a master-stroke. Why?
We have seen an already growing sector of the game grow even stronger and the recognition that it now enjoys could very well propel it onto the television sets around Australia on a weekly basis faster than anyone would have imagined. Because of the great media push driven by the AFL, the Falcons have seen our numbers grow in both our Youth Girls and Senior teams by over 30%, combine this with a healthy retention and our 2016 season was set up for a big year.
With thanks to a committed group of people driving the club’s strategic plan we kicked off the year by reaching the Gold Quality Club level ahead of time an achievement only possible because of a strong inclusive culture within and around the club.
The continuity of a strong coaching team headed by Paul Beaver and Chris Leonard and very ably assisted by Naomi Bowran and Sophie Prizeman the players were able to build on the knowledge gained in 2015 and it also meant that the good number of new players would integrate far quicker than in previous seasons allowing the teams to settle easier.
We were all very proud and excited when Laura Pugh, Ashton Hill and Brooke Hongell (who gained notoriety through an ill delivered front on bump) were selected to play in the historic Female Western Derby. Add to this the great achievement by Ruby Riley and Chloe Metcalf to represent the Woomeras and WA respectively, in the National 18’s carnival in Melbourne and top it off with Akoor Dhelbai and Scovia Anzoa (the first African born players to represent WA) in the State 15’s Schoolgirls played in Maroochydore and certainly not forgetting that Ashton also showed her football’s ever increasing improvement by joining the U23’s as they played a double header in Queensland. The transition of players from the Butler Falcons continues to show great promise with several more joining this year, the work that Joe is doing with these girls is such a good base for when they step up to a more competitive environment.
Our relationships with the Amateur clubs continues to grow stronger. We owe a huge thanks to Wanneroo, a club which we have shared many years with and a club that has proven to be a leader when it comes to the respect shown to female footy, we again played as part of its Ladies Day and we also thank East Fremantle for sharing the day with us. This year we also played at Whitford Amateurs as they too are very keen to develop female footy, this was a night game shared with Peel Thunderbirds, who we owe a huge thanks to given where they had to travel to after the game.
What was really great to see was the creation by West Perth District for a Friday night junior girls competition, the 6 week program introduced so many more girls to the game and truly completed the pathway for females within our district, to McGhie, Sarah, Maddie, Courtney who along with some other players took the time to train and coach the Joondalup girls well done, we certainly look forward to many more young girls coming up through the ranks like Daisy.
Thanks to Smile Teeth Whitening who became our major partner in 2016 and gave us the chance to display our newly designed jumpers, we very much appreciate your support, also that of Turtle Travel who re-joined us for a second year. Deb and the crew at Bailey’s Bar and Bistro you’ve been awesome this year, definitely the best place to go in Joondalup.
The biggest thanks goes to the entire playing group in both our teams, the great culture you have all helped create is what is taking us further and further, it is making a place that people want to be a part of and support, add to this the great volunteers that have helped throughout the year, special mention to Mark Young and Brooke Lloyd who have taken exceptional care of all the players this year and who can forget Frazer who week in week out ran boundary so well that the umpires continually wanted to recruit him.
Finally to our awesome partner West Perth Football Club, we thank you for the opportunity to use HBF Arena as our home ground and we certainly look forward to an even more ‘united’ future.