West Australian trio Zippy Fish, Claudia Wright and Molly O’Hehir have praised the benefits of attending the AFL National Academy Girls Camp in Victoria last weekend.
The 26-player squad trained at IKON Park in Carlton on Friday before participating in a range of activities in Geelong across the weekend, including a training session at GMHBA Stadium on Sunday morning.
The AFL National Academy is an accelerated football and personal development program that provides the next generation of stars with experiences and opportunities to best prepare them for the next steps in their football journey.
The 2024 AFL National Academy Girls squad comprises the nation’s most promising footballers born in 2006 who will be eligible to be selected in the 2024 AFLW Draft.
O’Hehir, who turns 18 this year, believes the camp was an invaluable experience.
“I found it interesting to mix with the other players and chat to likeminded people with similar aspirations,” she said.
“We shared our long term and short-term goals with these players and got an understanding on where we are at in our careers.
“It was great to learn off the players and understand their strategies and strengths.
“It was also good to train with these girls to see how other states train and perform.
“We engaged in training sessions where we worked on our individual skills and then moved to a ‘team’ focussed session on Sunday where our training focus was ‘pressure on the ball’.
“We also took place in team bonding activities where we shared our personal stories as well as enjoying some downtime together learning about each-other.
“Another team bonding activity was surfing in Geelong where the team and staff participated in a surfing lesson.
“The camp gave an insight on what it’s like to be an AFLW player and it certainly fuels my desire to be drafted by an AFLW club.
“The opportunities presented currently in women’s sport is exciting and the women’s competition is constantly evolving.
“The camp inspired me to work hard and create goals for the end of the year.
O’Hehir, who was named in the 2023 AFL National Championships U18 Girls All Australian Team, has similar ambitions to those who attended the camp.
“The main goal for this year is to get drafted by an AFLW club, but there is a long year ahead, so I’m excited to hopefully have some team success with the state academy girls as well as the South Fremantle girls in the WAFLW competition, O’Hehir said.
The camp was the first of three high-performance camps the squad will feature in as part of the National Academy program.
Players engaged in a range of football, education, wellbeing and team-bonding sessions during the camp, and many will represent their country as part of the Australia U18 team later in the year.
AFL National Academy Manager Tarkyn Lockyer declared the camp a perfect way to begin the year.
“It was very exciting to have the 2024 AFL National Academy Girls squad come together for the first time as we kick off this year's program,” he said.
“The players selected for the AFL National Academy have proven themselves to be among the most talented and promising young footballers in the country.
”We are really looking forward to working with the group to further their development and provide them with new experiences that will help them on and off the field during their draft year.”