THERE is an air of confidence among the Muswellbrook Cats at the moment.
And, much of it centres on a group of female players – Paris Adam, Natalie Heard, Meghann Sawkins and Ashlea Finn – who have been recognised for their efforts within the Black Diamond AFL.
The quartet was named in the Hunter train-on squad, which will contest the inaugural GE BDAFL Women’s Representative Challenge at Medowie’s Ferodale Park on Saturday, July 21.
The line-up, also boasting Singleton’s Tori Cowburn, Bree Howard, Kyah McBride, Natasha Pietzrac and Lynan Scott, faces Central Coast and Newcastle in the round robin tournament.
The girls’ club coach, Ken Garland, said the selection of Adam, Heard, Sawkins and Finn was a “massive” boost for the Cats.
“They all deserve their opportunity,” he admitted.
“The challenge is a new [representative] format, so we’re very proud of them, especially as this is only our second season in the women’s competition.
“Paris, an on-baller, works hard in the engine room; Natalie controls the back strongly and brings a lot of footy smarts; Meghann, a centre-half-back, is a good rebound footballer; and Ashlea, an on-baller/tagger, will shut anyone down.
“The good thing is they’ve gained plenty of experience, just being in the train-on squad.
“They’ve picked up a few things [over the past couple of weeks] – and returned to the club with a greater intensity.
“That not only flows back into our side, but gives the rest of the girls something to strive for.”
HUNTER (Maitland, Muswellbrook, Nelson Bay, Port Stephens, Singleton)
Stevie Bishop, Sarah Burns, Hannah Centra, Jodie Eagar, Gabrielle Easey, Anna Fraser, Lea O’Donoghue, Amanda Smith (Maitland), Paris Adam, Ashlea Finn, Natalie Heard, Meghann Sawkins (Muswellbrook), Jemma Astley, Sophie Balcombe, Kaitlyn Douglass, Natasha Flint, Kate Holland, Lauren Hughes, Katelyn Jaramillo, Emma Kelly, Annalise Norton, Madeline Norton, Molly Simpson (Nelson Bay), Tia Davidson, Amanda Lewis, Cheyenne Neu (Port Stephens), Tori Cowburn, Bree Howard, Kyah McBride, Natasha Pietzrac, Lynan Scott (Singleton)
Coach: Craig Golledge
Team manager: Nadene McBride
CENTRAL COAST (Gosford, Killarney Vale, Terrigal Avoca, The Entrance Bateau Bay, Wyong Lakes)
Ange Jones, Maddi Kacarovski, Jasmine Mandy, Svenja Mueller-Byrnes, Claire Walsh, Orana Young (Gosford), Courtney Barnett, Dixie Butler, Georgia Butler, Natasha Gregory, Megan Jenkins, Jocelyn Kelleher, Ashleigh Page, Hannah Page, Bethany Wood (Killarney Vale), Morgan Ross, Darneka Rowe (Terrigal Avoca), Beth Allards
(The Entrance Bateau Bay), Sarah Ball, Emily Bohan, Jesse Graham, Kanesha Murray, Alanna Nicholson, Alexandra Pearce, Rachael Potts (Wyong Lakes)
Coaches: Peter Kelleher and Murray Schubert
Team manager: Theresa Haggerty
NEWCASTLE (Cardiff, Lake Macquarie, Newcastle City, Wallsend-West Newcastle, Warners Bay)
Matisse Coram-Parker, Arizona Cross, Eloise Petersen, Claudia Russell, Tayla Wilks (Cardiff), Emma-Jayne Howe, Sheldon Janissen, Holly Kozlik Billie Schneeweiss (Lake Macquarie), Tayla Braithwaite, Sarah Halvorsen, Taylor Joyce, Amy Morschell (Newcastle City Stars), Kate Handley, Caitlin Holcombe, Tjarra Kilpatrick, Jess Lashlie, Anna Ralston, Kath Stellmaker, Erin White (Newcastle City Novas), Alyce McCloskey (Wallsend-West Newcastle), Kate Booth, Di Crep, Sam Delaney, Sam Lawrence, Amy Pittman (Warners Bay)
Coach: Shaun O’Leary
Team manager: Justin Petrevski
GE BDAFL Women’s Representative Challenge draw
11am: Central Coast v Newcastle
12.20pm: Central Coast v Hunter
1.40pm: Hunter v Newcastle