By Grant Hitzman
The ninth year of the AFL Queensland Youth Girls State Championships has seen an exciting transformation as Mackay enters the carnival as a standalone side.
As Co-Director of Women’s AFL in Mackay, Vanessa Creely is wrapped with the opportunity to take part in the championships.
“It’s our very first year this year and when we got the email regarding the Youth Girls State Championship we thought that was fantastic,” she said.
As the name suggests, the Mackay Vipers are set to shake up the competition as the new kids on the block who will be looking to impress in their inaugural year.
“As we had a lot of young girls through schools and everything like that involved in AFL, we thought we’d try our luck and hopefully we’ll manage to get a strong team together, which will be an amazing experience,” Creely said.
State representative and smooth-mover Lauren Bella will be leading the charge for the Vipers.
“Lauren was selected for the School State Championships and has fantastic skills, bringing a lot of positive traits to the table,” said Creely.
Bella’s father and uncle played Rugby League professionally, however, it is quite obvious Bella has found her feet playing AFL.
“Rugby League is her family background except you can tell she loves playing AFL with all the freedom on the ground as opposed to Rugby, she is a very talented young girl,” Creely said.
The Mackay Vipers aren’t scared of a little competition and are gifted with an impressive range of girls who play several different sports.
“At present we got quite a few girls that played in the AFL Woman’s League this is year which is great, but we’ve also got other girls that play netball, touch rugby league and basketball,” Creely said.
“We’ve been training once a week due to school holidays and due to a lot of the girls playing different sports,” she said.
“But we are starting to ramp it up to two sessions a week now so we are looking forward to it all.”
Mackay are confident they have the edge on the opposition in a couple of areas, making for a ferocious contest.
“We have a lot of girls who are not afraid to put their body on the line and show a bit of mongrel,” said Creely.
The Viper’s are braced firmly with a fighting spirit as well as a knack to learn and experience the competitive nature of AFL at a higher level.
“Our skills are up to scratch but I wouldn’t say we are quite up to the level of some of the Brisbane teams, however, the girls can kick straight, mark well and show good fitness,” she said.
Having never experienced such a high level as a stand-alone team, Mackay are approaching the carnival with no expectations.
“I’m not sure how we’ll go, hopefully we’ll get a win but it’s mainly about the experience for the girls and building it from here on in with the hopes of being bigger and better next year,” Creely said.