The inaugural WAFLW season will kick off this weekend with the majority of the Fremantle AFLW list expected to take part throughout the year.
The revamped women’s football competition boasts five teams with 19 Fremantle players spread throughout the league.
The season starts on Sunday with East Fremantle taking on Peel Thunder at East Fremantle Oval and Swan Districts playing Subiaco at Bassendean Oval.
Fremantle senior coach Trent Cooper said that the majority of the Fremantle-listed players won’t play a full season due to rules in place to prevent overloading of AFLW players.
“The WAFC were wise to come up with these rules to protect the player loads,” Cooper said.
“The players can play 15 games across both AFLW and WAFLW seasons that don’t include finals.
“For our players who have had a full season, they’ll play seven or eight of the 12 possible WAFLW games, and that will keep them fresh for the WAFLW finals and also for the 2020 AFLW season.
“For the girls who trained all year but didn’t play, they’ll be allowed to play the full 12 games.
“For someone like Jasmin Stewart at Claremont, who was training really well at the end of our season but couldn’t quite break into the side, she’s itching to go and I’m sure she’ll play the opening game for Claremont and play very well.”
East Fremantle’s Alex Williams is expected to miss the season due to injury while Kara Donnellan has taken on the role of senior coach at Swan Districts, and is unlikely to play.
Cooper said he expects Donnellan to thrive in the role.
“Kara stepped in as coach at Swan Districts in an acting capacity last year when Nicole Graves went across to Carlton and she’s taking on that role this year,” Cooper said.
“She already has some good coaching experience, she’s coached in the V Swans program and coached two prison teams.
“With her body where it’s at, she probably needs the season to recover and get ready for next year, so playing isn’t ideal for her but coaching will be fantastic.
“We’ve got quite a few of the Freo girls down there and I’m sure she’ll enjoy coaching against a lot of the other Freo girls when that opportunity arises.”
Cooper said that there will be Fremantle representatives watching every game as Freo looks to add to their list via the AFLW draft.
“At the moment we have the first pick in WA and three out of the top four picks in the WA pool, so we’ll be a really big player in the draft,” Cooper said.
“At this stage, we’re likely to have seven draft picks but that could change depending on how many rookies we take.
“I’d imagine they’ll all come from the WAFLW competition, so we’ll be down there watching the young ones and also the experienced players who may have developed over the past 12 months, so it will be a very important part of the process.”
Cooper said he expects the Freo girls to enjoy the challenge of playing against each other through the season.
“I think they like it, they take it seriously and I’m glad they’re at different clubs where they can be challenged by each other,” Cooper said.
“The games are always played in good spirit and they get to test themselves against each other. I think it will be fun to watch.
“The WAWFL (the former Women’s football league in WA) did a really good job of running a competition but it needed to go another level and the WAFLW will do that.
“Only having five teams with 16 a side means the quality out there will be really high and I’m really looking forward to watching our girls play as well as the next batch coming through.”
FREMANTLE-LISTED PLAYERS ON WAFLW TEAMS
Jasmin Stewart, Laura Pugh, Matilda Sergeant
Gabby O’Sullivan, Evie Gooch, Philipa Seth, Alex Williams
Tayla Bresland, Katie-Jayne Grieve, Sabreena Duffy
Leah Mascall, Hayley Miller, Kiara Bowers
Ebony Antonio, Gemma Houghton, Stephanie Cain, Ange Stannett, Ashley Sharp, Kara Donnellan (coach)
New recruit Mia-Rae Clifford will play the season for Carlton in the VFLW before moving over to WA for the AFLW season.