Natural instincts are so important in football and new South Eastern Women’s Football (SEWF) interleague coach Gary Sanford gave a glimpse of his own characteristics ahead of the first training session at Casey Fields on Wednesday night.
Ask Sanford about the prospect of moulding a 65-strong squad into a cohesive unit against the Southern Football Netball League on Sunday May 19 – and his face lights up.
It’s his natural instinct – to be proud, passionate and excited about the challenge ahead as he looks to build on SEWF’s one-point victory over the Northern Football League in the inaugural interleague clash last year.
“It’s fantastic to be a part of and something I’ve really been looking forward to, working with female footballers again who aspire to play at the highest level available to them,” Sanford said.
“And for me, it’s all about pride and passion. It won’t be the best 25 players that represent this league, it will be the players that give their all at training and show the coaching staff that they want to wear that jumper with pride.”
Interleague coach Gary Sanford expects a proud and passionate group to represent SEWF against Southern on Sunday May 19.
The just-turned 60-year-old has an impressive football resume having coached the Frankston Reserves to a VFA premiership in 1989. He took a long break from coaching as his four daughters grew up around him before his nephews pestered him into coaching the Red Hill juniors in 2001.
After another long hiatus, he began coaching female football with his daughter Vicki making the Victorian School Sports team despite having no local club to call home. He rectified that situation and led the Mornington Football Club to a premiership in the South East Division of the Victorian Women’s Football League in 2016.
“I’ve coached boys and men before, but female footballers just have this passion to learn and they absorb things very easily,” Sanford said, before explaining the exciting nature of the interleague program.
“We have players from all three divisions of the league who are keen to prove that they belong at this level. It’s exciting that a player like Zoe Mitchell from Hastings, who has won league best and fairest awards in division three, has the opportunity to showcase her skills.
“And it’s not just Zoe, I’m sure there will be players that emerge that will go on to play at VFL level and even higher. That’s one of the most exciting aspects of coaching interleague football, discovering just how strong the depth is in our league and showcasing that on the day.”
Sanford has a very strong support staff, with Eastern Devils premiership coach – and last year’s interleague mentor – Megan Snart by his side, joined by well-respected coaches in Kris Smith and Jason Mitchell.
Sanford is expecting the quality of players and coaching staff to lead to an enjoyable experience both on and off the field.
“This should be a very enjoyable time of year for these girls because representing the league that you play in is a privilege and that’s the message that I will be conveying to the group,” he said.
“We want a true team to run onto the ground on May 19 and showcase what this league is all about.
“We’ll be playing an exciting brand of football that relies heavily on skills and teamwork and having the ability to recognise when your mate is in trouble and have the care to help them out.
“You don’t do that unless you are a real team and we’ll probably have half-a-team turnover from last year. It creates a wonderful opportunity for this team to grow together as a group and to create its own special piece of history.”
SEWF 2019 INTERLEAGUE SQUAD
Tess Angarane, Ella Angarane, Charlotte Bolding, Hannah Mills.
Shelby Walton, Maddy Hession, Charlotte Jagusch, Jade Hough.
Tahlia Fellows, Rylee Geddes, Mahalia Brown, Cassandra Meads, Casey Birmingham, Ebony Hobson, Rebecca Tiernan, Brooke Campbell.
Sarah McNamara, Jess Wallace, Megan Supple, Elley Butcher, Shelly Beggs, Olivia Ang, Chloe Hunt, Riley Cridland.
Liv Purcell, Gemma Proy.
Zoe Mitchell, Bridgette Kupsch.
Emily Rylance, Georgia Speedy, Vicki Sanford, Morgan Bain, Gabrielle Peters, Deanne Wilkes, Tori Campbell.
Dani Wearne, Shanae Carter.
Mimi Henderson, Kerrie Micallef.
Paige Holt, Maegan Harrison, Belinda Ousley, Tori Tonin.
Charlotte Seedsman, Molly Farquharson.
Jessica Johnston, Tenae Brown, Jamie Head, Tylah St. Anne, Jessica Baguley, Taylah Kane, Kayla McKiever, Brittany Roberts.
Hannah Townsend, Georgia Fisher, Taylah Watson, Hannah Bowey, Harriet Cooper, Bridget Hanrahan, Sarah Black.
Kelly Adamson, Mel Savio.
Jenna Robertson, Sarah Alweyn.