Building a strong connection between the junior girls sides and the senior women’s squad will be pivotal in helping Wallan become a strong women’s club according to Magpies senior women’s star Kelly Lennox.
The Magpies are preparing for their fourth season in the NFNL women’s competition after finishing on the bottom of the Division 3 ladder in 2022, registering two wins.
But a solid number of players at training, as well as the injection of some new players, has given Lennox optimism that on the field, her side can be more competitive in 2023.
“Training has been really good, this is probably one of the best years we’ve had in terms of numbers, we’ve had a lot of new girls come down too which has been great,” she said.
“We’ve got a few under-18’s girls from different clubs coming up as well which is great.
“Last year we were competitive, but we just couldn’t get the score on the board. I think this year will be different.”
It’s been a long road to get the senior side to where it is today according to Lennox, who praised coach Leigh Senior for his role in the side as well as his ability to use the team’s chemistry and culture as a focal point for their development both on and off the field.
“This is my third season at the club and where I came from, we had that interrupted covid season and then we had a season where it wasn’t great, we didn’t have great numbers, nobody enjoyed it and people weren’t coming to training,” she said.
“Then we had a change of coach in Leigh Senior last year, and he’s just changed the club around for the better.”
The club has been able to secure multiple new recruits for the upcoming season, headlined by Shazi Cappello, who returns to football after spending seven years with Diamond Creek Women’s where she played NFNL and VFL Women’s football.
Lennox herself was a standout for the Magpies last year. She was selected in the Division 3 women’s Team of the Year and also finished third in the league’s Division 3 women’s best and fairest count.
The 48-year-old was eager to get the boots on again in 2023 but is just as excited to help develop and teach a new bunch of teammates.
“I’m keen to get going again, if the body holds up, I suppose,” she said.
“I’m just as excited about being part of a new group, I’ll try and back it up this year and hopefully we can get the team a few more wins and make the finals.”
While focusing some of her energy towards the senior side, Lennox has also taken on multiple roles in the junior girls football arm of the club, along with other members of her family.
Wallan will have at least two girls sides in the NFNL junior football competition this year and Lennox believes it’s crucial to ensure that these sides are shown that the senior team is the best pathway for the girls to undertake after finishing their junior careers, particularly as the club won’t be fielding an under-18’s side again in 2023.
“I’m coaching the under-10 girls this year and I’m doing that to try and build the relationship between the juniors and the seniors, so the juniors feel like they’ve got somewhere to go to once they finish their junior footy,” she said.
“My daughter also coaches the under-12 girls, so it’s just been about keeping the girls together and hopefully they get to know us more and then they get comfortable to come and join us at senior level.
“A lot of the girls when they come up to women’s football think it’s a big step and it’s different, but if we can make them feel welcome and have that bond with them through training sessions, it’ll go a long way to help build Wallan to be a club you want to be at.”
Lennox hopes the result of that relationship strengthening will be the senior women’s program being able to field two teams, which she believes will help players become better in the long run.
“We’d love to have two teams, so we have that competitiveness to turn up to training, at the moment, even if girls don’t go to training, they still get a game,” she said.
“But by having two teams, it makes people want to strive to be in that first team, it makes you want to turn up to training and improve yourself.”