Essendon Football Club VFLW coach Brendan Major says his side has the ability to be competitive with the league’s best teams in its first season next year.
Major knows what it takes to be a successful team given his extensive history in coaching women’s football.
“I think there’s always scope to be competitive, 100%,” Major said.
“Attitude and work rate get you a really long way in women’s football.”
“It’s still emerging as a sport, so (if) we get the fundamentals right, which we can do over the pre-season, then we can be really competitive,” he said.
Major coached the Eastern Devils in the VFLW from 2014 to 2017 and has brought some Devils along with him to the Bombers.
After also spending time as the strength and conditioning coach at the VFLW Academy, he said he is very familiar with the large squad of over 50 women.
The squad will eventually be trimmed down to between 40 and 45 players by April, and Major said there are plenty of players for Essendon fans to look out for.
Two of those – Lisa Williams and Lauren Morecroft – were a part of the Western Bulldogs AFLW team last season and will bring a wealth of experience to the side.
While there are plenty of experienced heads in the team, there is no shortage of promising youth in the squad.
“We’ve got some really good young players in Hayley Bullas and Isabella Farchioni that I think will be really exciting,” Major said.
VFL Operations Manager Ashley Brown said he hopes the team can become a stepping stone for women striving to play in the AFLW competition.
“We’re a new club, so we want to build a really good culture and environment that women’s footballers from this region – the northwest region – want to come and be a part of,” Brown said.
“We also want to provide a platform where women can come in and aspire to get onto AFLW lists and hopefully, ultimately ours.”
Major said the main focus for the side in the pre-season will be ensuring each player can reach the level and standards demanded by the league.
“The level of professionalism in women’s football is ever increasing, so it’s about making sure that we match that and that we take the group that we have and make sure that they’re fundamentally ready to play VFL football,” he said.
“By the end of the season we’re really hoping that we can get some players drafted and then when they go into AFL programs that they don’t skip a beat.”