West Coast’s newest AFLW players gathered for their first training session yesterday as the second block of the club’s 2019 High Performance Female Academy got underway.
Marquee recruits Dana Hooker and Emma Swanson were among the 18 players who hit the gym at 6.30am to complete screenings with the Eagles’ strength and conditioning staff.
AFLW senior coach Luke Dwyer said it was an exciting time for the club.
“We had our induction evening last week, but this was a true training session, so that for me as the coach is when it starts to get pretty real,” Dwyer said.
“We’re now preparing these girls for a big season and then obviously getting them ready for the upcoming AFLW campaign.
“This morning was a one-off session in that our physiotherapy and strength and conditioning staff, Eric Mackenzie and Alivia Del Basso plus Chris Goonewardene, did screened the club's newest athletes.
“That will help their development, assist injury prevention and keep a track on their data to see if there’s been any changes.
“Today was more about connecting the group, as it’s the first time we’ve actually had them all together in the one training facility.”
West Coast will soon sign seven athletes from its Female Academy ahead of October's AFLW National Draft, where it hopes to sign four more players.
The club also has capacity to sign one more rookie following the recruitment of Irish Gaelic footballers Grace and Niamh Kelly.
“We feel like we’ve traded and brought in some players who are really good role models, so they’ll fit in really well from our cultural point of view,” Dwyer said.
“We think they’ll have a great influence on the younger girls.”
Moving forward, the Female Academy training program will consist of two sessions per week, involving weights, athletic movement and football components.
Dwyer said the program would change slightly once the club moved into its new headquarters at Mineral Resources Park.
“We have the big indoor training hall at Mineral Resources Park, so we can use that facility to do football drills, which is really exciting,” Dwyer said.
“Our players will also be able to use the aquatic facilities for recovery.”
When the 2019 WAFLW season winds up, the players will begin their official pre-season as West Coast Eagles.
“When pre-season kicks off we’ll have three football sessions per week football, plus two gym sessions,” Dwyer said.
“The club is really embracing the girls. We look forward to developing and supporting our AFLW players in a way that when they pull on the Eagles jumper for the first time, they’re really going to do themselves, their families and the club proud.”