GEORGIA Collins is the latest local to be recruited to the burgeoning VFL Women’s competition, joining Box Hill as a development player.
Collins, 17, has been playing football for more than 10 years, and is currently a half-forward for Maffra.
She credited getting her start in footy to her father, who was always up for a kick in the backyard, and her coach Paul Shelton at Maffra Black. He encouraged Georgia and realised she not only has a great left foot, she had a real passion for the game.
Collins said she was grateful “Shelts” believed in her and gave her the opportunity to play the game she loved.
When she turned 14, Collins was told she was unable to continue to play with the boys because of her age, while she was trying out for the state under 18s girls’ footy team. In desperation, her family approached Chyloe Kurdas, a pioneer in the development of women’s football.
When Collins said she was from Maffra, Kurdas asked why not start a girls’ team.
Through social media, Collins had the support from 18 other local girls who wanted to play footy before the family arrived home from Melbourne.
By the first game in April two months later, Maffra had the first girls team in the Wellington area. The girls won the premiership that year.
Since getting recruited, Collins went on camp with the Box Hill Hawks to Merricks on the Mornington Peninsula and was able to really get to know her teammates.
“I’m enjoying it a lot, it’s a lot of fun to be around the girls,” she said.
“I’ve been playing practice matches, getting to know the girls and their standards.”
Collins currently trains up to three nights a week in Box Hill or Waverley Park, and combining high-level football with the pointy end of VCE studies will not be easy, she admitted, but supportive parents and being allowed to leave early for training has helped.
The enthusiasm for the AFLW is infectious, Collins said.
“It’s amazing, the lead up to this is incredible,” she said.
“It’s creating pathways for the younger generations, and it’s awesome to be a part of this.”
She said that it’s also great to see the local girls that she has played with and against at a club level, go through Gippsland Power, and are also playing at VFLW level.
Collins was recently handed her guernsey, number 49, and met Jarryd Roughead, captain of the Box Hill Football Club’s AFL affiliate Hawthorn.
Collins encouraged any girls interested in giving footy a go to check out their local clubs and follow their dreams.