Just a week after Nathalia’s Reni Hicks was drafted to Carlton a clear path has opened up for two more Goulburn Valley products to chase their dreams.
Murray Bushrangers duo Rebecca Webster and Millie Brown are among 44 young hopefuls included in next year’s AFL Women’s Academy squads, which were announced on Wednesday night.
The pair will receive expert coaching and guidance from some of the game’s best players — including superstar Erin Phillips — as well as having access to athlete management systems, high-performance training camps and AFL clubs as part of the scholarship.
Last year’s inaugural academy, which consisted of 33 players, yielded 11 draftees at last week’s draft — a high success rate that will give the local girls plenty of confidence in their own chances.
Brown and Benalla export Webster are no strangers to each other, both suiting up for Shepparton District Junior Football League club Mooroopna as well when they get the chance.
‘‘I’m very excited for Millie and for Bec Webster,’’ Millie’s father Paul said.
‘‘She’s a great player and the two of them get on great and bounce off each other when they play together.’’
Webster snared AFL Women’s under-18 All-Australian representation after a best-on-ground performance for Victoria Country this year, and has been included in the level two squad, of which players will be eligible for next year’s draft.
Mooroopna product Brown has been placed in the level one squad, which gives 16-year-olds the chance to experience an elite environment in preparation for their draft at the end of 2019, on the back of strong performances for Victoria Country and the Bushrangers, including the club’s Youth Girls TAC Cup best-and-fairest award.
‘‘Millie is very excited and very surprised, but she has been going pretty well with winning the Bushies’ best-and-fairest and being involved in the Vic Country side as a bottom-age player,’’ Paul, who played 84 games for Geelong, said.
‘‘She’s really looking forward to being involved at that elite level and getting exposed to great coaches and other players.
‘‘To be honest I don’t pass on too much wisdom unless she asks a question, I like to sit back and let her take her own path.’’
AFL Women’s female talent operations manager Aasta O’Connor is looking forward to working with the league’s next generation of superstars.
‘‘The success of the inaugural academy can be seen with 11 players being added to AFLW lists at the recent NAB AFL Women’s Draft,’’ O’Connor said.
‘‘In the next 12 months we will be working to prepare the best young female talent for AFLW football.’’