It’s been almost a quarter of a century since the Geelong Falcons became part of the inaugural TAC Cup pathway competition; now the girls have the chance to pull on the famous blue and white jumper in their own home-and-away competition.
Following the women’s football boom and the success of the first season of the AFL Women’s league, the newly formed Falcons female squad compliments the already existing boys program. Dubbed ‘the footy factory’ due to the Falcons producing superstar talent through their youth squads including Jimmy Bartel, Luke Hodge, Travis Boak, Paddy McCartin and Darcy Parish to name a few, the girls now have the same opportunity to reach the top level.
The Youth Girls are based at the home of the Geelong Falcons at Highton Reserve, where the girls have the same access to high quality facilities, coaches and conditioning programs.
The squad of 30 consists girls aged between 16 to 30, and started pre-season training back in November. The squad was originally training for a fortnight long regional carnival during the April school holidays, however following the positive response to the AFLW competition, AFL Victoria announced an inaugural women’s TAC Cup competition to mirror the men.
All 12 TAC Cup regions are represented in what is now a five-round season, the winner being the team who finishes atop the ladder after the completed games.
Coached by former South Barwon and Colac star Jason Armistead, the Falcons have had an unbeaten start to their season against the Northern Knights in round 1 and the Greater Western Victoria Rebels last weekend in round 2.
Armistead says coaching an elite girls team has opened his horizons.
“It’s been really good for me, as a coach, because you probably have to think about things a bit differently as well,” he said.
“But the girls have been fantastic. Girls are probably better communicators than boys, so they’re really good at letting you know how they’re feeling.”
Leading the side is 15-year old Ocean Grove product Lucy McEvoy; someone Armistead says is exemplary in her actions.
“The way she conducts herself at training, you can always rely on her, she’s so mature for her age,” he said.
“Some players stand out as natural leaders and she’s it.”
Despite being one of the youngest members of the Falcons squad, McEvoy has already earned the respect of her team mates who are up to three years older than her. McEvoy said she was a surprised as anyone when the group vote found her on top.
“It’s good to know they’re behind me and they think I can do it,” McEvoy told K-Rock Football last month.
“But I really think anyone could have got it because we’re such a tight group, everyone’s really inclusive, we’re all really close with each other.
“It’s a bit surprising as well, especially being the younger one, I didn’t really expect it.”
The Falcons will start training with the Geelong VFL Women in the coming weeks to fast track their development, the brain child on football development manager Katie Geerings, who oversees the program in the same way long time Falcons talent manager Michael Turner does with the boys.
In a press release when the side was announced, Turner says he couldn’t be prouder of the group.
“It’s great that we can now provide an opportunity for female footballers in our region to have access to the best facilities and coaching, and prepare the girls for the next stage of playing at either a VFL or AFL level.”
The girl’s next assignment is against Dandenong this weekend, before meeting the Murray Bushrangers and the Western Jets to round out their season.