It’s been a rags to riches story for the Pine Rivers QWFA Division 2 team, who will line up in a do-or-die elimination final against Beenleigh this Saturday, in just their second year of football.
The Swans breakout season has seen them go from one win in 2016 to now qualifying for finals with eight wins.
Pine Rivers club president and women’s coach Dylan Barker believes the success of his team can be attributed to improved player development.
This player development incudes members of the senior men’s team lending their advice and expertise to the girls.
“The women started training on the same night and time as the senior men’s team and a number of the senior men come over and help with a lot of development,” said Barker.
As a coach, Barker recognises the help the senior men provide to his players.
“From a coaching perspective, it’s an immense assist to have half a dozen experienced senior players at every training session helping with basic skill development and strategy,” he said.
The involvement of the senior team also highlights the culture of inclusiveness and diversity that exists at Pine Rivers.
“For the girls to feel included and that they belong at the club has been brought about by a shift from a male dominated club to a gender inclusive club,” said Barker.
“This is the case at many other AFL clubs around Queensland and the country with the recent inclusion and extension of the female branch of footy.”
The Swans have had a spectacular season given that a large portion of the players come from a limited or non-AFL background.
Coach Barker praised the all-round team effort that has taken the women to their first finals berth.
“There’s been no real one player that has really stood out but rather its really been a team effort across the park. The backline has been sensational with a couple of previous rugby playing girls and soccer players coming across and overwhelming opponents with their defensive pressure and tackling,” said Barker.
“Compared to last year we’ve had more runners and younger players come into the team to quicken up our midfield, and up forward the biggest improvement this year has been our captain, Jenifer Barker, who has led and presented very well along with kicking a lot of goals for us.”
The Swans face Beenleigh this weekend, the team they suffered an eight-point loss last time they met in round 11.
With this in mind, Barker has taken a few things from that loss to try and win this critical match.
“They beat us at our own game last time by employing a similar impenetrable zone that we used earlier in the season against them. We were also missing a few key players in our last encounter, so I believe it will be a very even match on Saturday,” said Barker.
Pine Rivers QWFA division 2 final will be held at Dauth Park Beenleigh at 4:45 pm this Saturday afternoon.
By Aaron Goodwin