A Proud and passionate SEWF team celebrates a great win over Southern. Photos: Gary Bradshaw – Frankie Photography
By David Nagel
South Eastern Women’s Football (SEWF) has proven itself to be one of the top leagues in the state after a 52-point victory over a brave Southern Football Netball League (SFNL) in the 2019 WorkSafe AFL Victoria Community Championships.
The hard-earned victory follows a one-point win over Northern last year and is a satisfying result for a group of players and coaches that dedicated nine weeks to intense preparation.
And the preparation was clear for all to see with SEWF gaining the early ascendency with the aid of a two-to-three-goal breeze in the first quarter at RSEA Safety Park.
Mel Hart and Danni Wearne were getting first hands to the footy in the ruck, allowing midfielders Sarah McNamara, Vicki Sanford and Jess Johnston to provide some terrific ball supply to the front half.
Skipper Belinda Ousley was an influential figure at centre half back while Elley Butcher showed the SEWF girls meant business with a great tackle at the beginning of the first term.
Wearne hit full-forward Chloe Hunt with a clinical pass to get scoring underway, with Olivia Aing and Jamie Head kicking SEWF out to a 21-point lead at quarter time.
SEWF extended its lead out to 24 points at half time before a 4.5 to no score third term put the issue beyond doubt. Tahlia Fellows and Cass Meads joined Hunt and Aing as third-quarter goal scorers, while Jess Baguley was running a tight ship in defence.
Southern played the game out hard, reducing the margin slightly in the final term, but SEWF was a well-deserved winner. Hunt and Aing finished with four goals each, while Head, Fellows and Meads were major contributors to the scoreboard.
McNamara added to her decorated career with a best-on-ground display, while Jess Wallace joined Aing, Baguley, Sanford and Fellows on the best-players list.
Sarah McNamara added a best-on-ground medal to her long list of career highlights.
SEWF coach Gary Sanford was delighted with his team’s win on a day when women’s football was exhibited in the best possible manner.
“We’re extremely lucky to be playing here at Moorabbin, on a great day, on a great surface, and both teams delivered with a fantastic game of football,” Sanford said.
“Southern hit us with everything today, they tackled hard and pressured us right throughout the course of the match but our girls showed some pride and I’m really pleased about that.
“We know we’ve been in a game of footy, that’s for sure, and full credit to both teams for fighting the game out.”
Sanford acknowledged that a dangerous forward line, led by Hunt and Aing, gave the Southern defenders some real headaches across all four quarters.
“Smash (Aing) was probably a bit stiff not to win the medal, she was right up there with Mac (Sarah McNamara), and the way she pressures and tackles puts a lot of pressure on the opposition defenders.
“And Chloe, she provides a dynamic target and marks the ball really well. It gives the midfielders and half forwards confidence when they look up and see a player like that in their forward line.”
The forward pressure of Olivia Aing played a key role in SEWF’s comfortable victory over Southern.
Sanford said the nine-week journey had been a memorable one and he would enjoy some long-lasting relationships going forward.
“I’m not involved at club level at Mornington like I used to be, so it was a really enjoyable experience to spend the last nine weeks with these girls,” he said.
“I didn’t know a lot of these girls at the start, but we’ve got to know each other and created a real bond going forward. Building those relationships and helping these girls to keep on improving their football is something I’m pretty passionate about.”
The winning coach agreed that a second-consecutive win had provided SEWF with great exposure and in a position to challenge for the top-ranked women’s league in community football.
“We defeated Northern last year and that was a great game of football and it looks like that matchup might be on the cards again next year,” he said.
“But I think it’s great, from a league perspective, that the SEWF competition is highly regarded in women’s football.
“It would be great if we could have the same thing as the men’s and have a defining contest that decides the number-one league in the state. After two consecutive wins – I think we’ve earned that right now.”
And Sandford signed off on his first year at the helm with a couple of well-deserved thank yous.
“One bloke, in particular, has been outstanding, and that’s (SEWF Operations Manager) Rod Hamilton whose efforts have made this whole experience possible,” he said, before praising his assistant coaches.
“I didn’t really coach the team; I just spoke about passion and pride and those types of things.
“Kris Smith and Michelle Densley have both been outstanding, they both coach clubs in their own right but have made a full commitment to this whole process. I can’t thank them enough for their support.”
Well done SEWF, a great win against a very gallant opponent.
South Eastern (SEWF) 3.3 5.6 9.11 11.12.78
Southern FNL 0.0 2.0 2.0 4.2.26
SEWF Goals: C. Hunt 4, O. Aing 4, J. Head, T. Fellows, C. Meads.
Best: Sarah McNamara (Medal), J. Baguley, O. Aing, J. Wallace, V. Sanford, T. Fellows.
Southern Goals: K. Germanier 2, D. Whelan, K. Borg.
Best: Alice Kovess (Medal), L. Fitzpatrick, S. Sandoval, N. Horua, K. Borg, I. Catrice.