With the phenomenal growth of women’s football across the country, the number of girls with an eye on the AFLW looking to step up their game has skyrocketed, and Melbourne Football Club’s Katherine Smith is excited to be able to offer them that chance.
Smith, a three-time youth All-Australian and former captain of both the U16s and U18s Victorian state team, is also the Co-Founder and Head Coach of Girls Footy Australia, a program that aims to develop young footballers through a holistic football program.
“With access to great facilities, specialised training programs and high-level coaching in an elite environment we believe their full potential can be achieved,” Smith told Girls Play Footy.
And while the program includes a focus on the fundamentals and developing the players ‘football knowledge, there is much more to the Girls Footy Australia ethos.
A relationship with Chyloe Kurdas, a women’s football pioneer, through Kurdas’ Own Journey, provides the young hopefuls with the mental tools and strategies to cope with the pressures of the elite environment.
Alongside Own Journey, Smith has also developed a relationship with Base Sports Group who provide the young athletes with a detailed review of their results from a range of tests, including sprints, vertical jumps and agility.
Smith, who won female coach of the year in 2015 at the age of seventeen, recognises the importance of providing young footballers with the right tools to succeed.
“I was fortunate enough in my youth girls career to be involved in representative programs that encourage elite behaviours, personal development off the field and have fantastic coaches,” Smith said.
“Girls Footy Australia is the perfect way to great more opportunities for young female footballers to have a similar experience.”
Smith has been running holiday camps and eight-week academy camps since May, with Girls Footy Australia recently holding their first Combine, where they invited 30 girls from the TAC Cup program and state programs to participate in their program.
Alongside the work of Own Journey and Base Sport Group, the girls also received specialised coaching from Smith and her Melbourne Demons teammate, Sarah Lampard.
“We put [them] through two hours of high intensity skills work… putting them through their paces with some decision-making, [and teaching them] new tips and tricks for ground balls, contested marking, tackling and spoiling that will improve their game.
“We believe the Combine is a great way to provide young female footballers an opportunity to be a part of a holistic program to better their football.”
Girls Footy Australia is preparing for its second Combine to he held next week on Tuesday, September 26 at 10am at Kingswood College in Box Hill.
If next week is too soon, the program certainly isn’t going anywhere, with plenty of events scheduled for the future.
“We will definitely continue to run the Combine over school holidays and the eight-week academy programs during school terms while coming up with more way we can create opportunities for young female footballers.”
Smith also noted Girls Footy Australia’s desire to eventually expend outside of Victoria.
More information on next week’s Combine can be found below.