Fingers crossed for comeback

THE Great Southern Football League (GSFL) has revealed its pathway back to competitive footy this year, announcing the 2020 season will start on June 28 if all the right pieces fall into place.

GSFL directors and club presidents met last week to determine a tentative start to the 2020 season, despite it remaining unclear when the State Government or Western Australian Football Commission (WAFC) will allow teams to compete on the field.

Under the WA Government’s current Phase 2 restrictions, sports teams are allowed non-contact play in groups of 20.

But it could only be a month before local footy players get to enjoy the rough and tumble of an Aussie Rules game, with the GSFL outlining its ideal return date would be for the last weekend of June.

With clubs seeking some guidance on when a season might materialise, GSFL President Joe Burton said the league had tried to get on the front foot.

“There are still a lot of ifs and buts. A lot can happen in those four weeks,” he said.

Under ‘Plan A’, the 2020 season will comprise 10 home-and-away rounds played in successive weeks, before a two-round finals series and a grand final on September 20.

If the GSFL isn’t allowed to return on June 28, then Burton said they would start one week after receiving the green light from the WAFC.

Burton said all six GSFL clubs were on board with playing the colts and 16s grades in 2020, but with the seniors it was a different story.

If community sporting grounds can’t have spectators, Burton said three of the six GSFL clubs were worried hosting league and reserves games would cost them too much financially.

“Half the clubs want to play regardless and the other half are a little bit dubious of the costs and not being able to recoup any money,” he said.

“If the seniors don’t go ahead then the colts and 16s will definitely go ahead.”

Burton said it was more important younger footballers were able to play this year because it was crucial for their development.

“A lot of those kids are aspiring to play football at the next level,” he said.

“And they cannot afford to miss a whole year. We are making sure they get
their opportunity.”

The GSFL will be offering clubs $500 for every home game they host and are seeking additional funding from the WAFC, according to Burton.

The Albany Sharks Football Club is one organisation who desperately want all the grades up and firing in 2020 no matter the outcome on spectators.

“We will make it a priority to get all four teams on the track,” Albany Sharks President Tracy Blaszkow said.
“It will be tricky financially, but we will make it work.”

Ms Blaszkow said the Sharks would even be open to playing in a senior’s competition with only three or four clubs.

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Surfing legend in hall of fame

ALBANY-BORN surfing legend Jodie Cooper was inducted into the 2020 Australian Surfing Awards Hall of Fame this week.

The renowned big-wave rider credited her upbringing in the powerful waves of WA as a major reason why she thrived in places like Hawaii where she won a number of titles.

Ms Cooper won 13 international surfing events and was runner-up a further 13 occasions in her professional career spanning 20 years.

The 56-year-old is globally recognised as the best women’s surfer never to win a world title.

In 1991, Ms Cooper starred as a surfing stunt double for actress Lori Perry in the Hollywood blockbuster film Point Break starring Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves.

“That was epic, I worked there for over a month in locations from California to Hawaii,” she said.

“It’s an iconic film and still plays regularly on TV.”

She also assisted in the 2017 movie Breath, a film adaptation of Tim Winton’s novel, with much of the action set in Denmark.

Ms Cooper’s surfing career started as an amateur in 1981 and turned professional two years later.

By the end of 1984 she was ranked number four in the world.

She had her first professional win at Huntington Beach in California at the start of 1985 and later in the year won the World Cup in Hawaii.

With a number of second and third placings, she ended that year number two in the world.

Ms Cooper said her most cherished victory was at Bells Beach in 1985 but also added that her titles in Hawaii were important.

“It’s just an intense wave, I still get overawed when surfing Hawaii,” she said.

“It’s just a rock in the middle of the ocean with no continental shelf.

“The strength and calibre of the waves is unmatched although the closest would be the breaks in southern WA.”

Ms Cooper quit the world tour in 1994 and after suffering a back injury, retired in 2002.

She acknowledged her hardest competitors were four-time world champion Wendy Botha and Pam Burridge although “on the day, anyone could beat you”.

The Jodie Cooper Award, first awarded in 1999, is made to the Western Australian Female Surfer of the Year.

Ms Cooper was made a Life Member of the Association of Surfing Professionals in 1994 and in 2001 was inducted into the Western Australian Hall of Champions.

Proud brother and Albany local Russ Cooper said Ms Cooper started surfing with him and his mates at some ‘gnarly, heavy waves’ including Sand Patch and Blowholes.

“She was fearless, only 55kg dripping wet yet charging,” he recalled.

“I remember one day she surfed Sunset Point at 22ft and was snapping boards and heading straight back out there.

“She would be the humblest person I know, she is admired and respected by the most powerful people in the surfing industry.”

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Winter is coming and so are sports

WINTER sports are looking more and more likely to see competitive play this year in the Great Southern as respective leagues explore ways of returning to the field over the next couple of months.

There was a big coronavirus-shaped cloud hanging over the head of community sport in Australia when the pandemic first hit home, but now there is renewed hope grass roots leagues will spring into action sooner than first thought.

Albany Netball Association (ANA) President Trish Hines said her sport would be aiming for a return to play on July 18, with seven rounds of regular competition plus finals.

However, the July restart date would hinge on the State Government allowing gatherings of 100 people in the next easing of restrictions, according to Ms Hines.

Ms Hines said the ANA simply wouldn’t be able to fit enough teams into the Albany Leisure and Aquatic Centre for game day competition under the current social distancing rules.

“If they don’t lift them up to gatherings of 100 people, we haven’t got a chance of getting the season going,” she said.

“We’ve had some positive discussions with ALAC and they are keen for us to get going again.”

Ms Hines said all the local netball clubs were on board with a restart, but some had lost players due to financial hardship.

“The financial situation of some families is starting to hit home, especially if they have a couple playing,” she said.

“We’ve had a few pull out.”

Ms Hines said ANA would reduce players’ fees because of the shortened season.

“It will be a half season so we’ve slashed our fees in half,” she said.

The Lower Great Southern Hockey Association (LGSHA) is taking a more conservative approach to announcing any potential return date, instead opting to wait for state body Hockey WA to give them the green light.

LGSHA President Alex Bott said he was more focused on getting players back to training and would wait for further feedback from clubs before making a decision.

He said midweek fixturing was a possibility if they needed to stagger playing times or squeeze more games into the season.

“There’s the potential to play games during the week under lights,” Mr Bott said.

“We are in the lucky position of being able to play at night and day.”

Unlike the local football competition, Mr Bott said the LGSHA wasn’t as reliant on game day attendance for funding, meaning having no crowds shouldn’t pose too much of a problem.

“Hockey is a bit different because we just have the two venues at Mt Barker and Albany,” he said.

“With how the turf is set up, it’s not as reliant on funding. It’s more self-sufficient to operate without crowds.”

Local soccer is another sporting code that doesn’t rely heavily on crowd attendance, with spectators watching games from the sidelines for free.

Great Southern Soccer Association (GSSA) President Marcus McPharlin said an executive committee would likely vote on a tentative restart dates and fixturing next Friday.

He said the GSSA had been working closely with clubs and the City of Albany for feedback on what their preferences are for the 2020 season.

Soccer clubs have been able to train in groups of 10 since May 4 following advice from state body Football West, and can now practice non-contact training in groups of 20 after the State Government eased restrictions on May 18.

A set of guidelines was released to clubs to ensure necessary measures were put in place to protect players and coaches from COVID-19.

“In essence, this can be viewed as a month-long pre-season as we build towards bringing back our formal competitions,” Football West CEO James Curtis said.

“Clubs must consult with their land managers to ensure they have access to their venues. Football West recognises this is an issue and we will work with our clubs and local councils to try to resolve it.”

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Advantage tennis in pandemic

LOWER Great Southern Tennis Association (LGSTA) President Les Bairstow is confident COVID-19 won’t hurt plans to build a regional tennis centre in Albany, with the organisation ‘fortunate’ to dodge serious financial losses.

While contact sports figure out how to get winter competitions underway, local tennis is back up and running.

Tennis clubs and centres around WA were closed at the end of March on the back of Tennis West recommendations.

But the state tennis body is now giving the green light for the game to get back on the court following the easing of social distancing measures in WA.

It has meant tennis clubs have been out of action for just over a month, which Mr Bairstow said put the association in a good spot to weather any financial losses from the pandemic.

“We actually got through most of the season with the exception of a few major events we run to finish things off,” he said.

“We are a bit lucky compared to football and soccer.”

Mr Bairstow hoped the COVID-19 crisis would only momentarily delay approval to build a regional tennis centre in Albany, which is in the middle of a feasibility study.

“The next two to three months will be dead but we’ve got a lot of things in place ready to get things moving again,” he said.

“But we are a fair way down the track with that feasibility study and the City of Albany are right behind it too.”

For the short term, Mr Bairstow said getting tennis up and running again was more important for local coaches who have suffered financially.

Vincent Brochard, who runs coaching sessions for juniors at Lawley Park Tennis Club, said he had no income for seven weeks.

“It has affected me a lot,” he said.

Mr Brochard didn’t wait for any official advice from Tennis West, instead opting to close his business before serious restrictions started.

“It was a good call because they asked us to stop at the end of the week,” he said.

With training sessions back under way, Mr Brochard said he would try to organise a local junior competition as soon as possible.

“A lot of people were really excited to come back on the court,” he said.

“Hopefully the weather holds on a little bit longer, but the rain doesn’t scare me.”

Social tennis is also back in action, but not as we know it.

Socialising before or after play at tennis clubs isn’t being allowed and clubhouses remain closed under Tennis West recommendations.

But President of the Tennis Section of Emu Point Sporting Club Colin Veale said just being able to play was still extremely important for members’ physical and mental wellbeing.

“We have an older demographic; it’s an outlet for them,” he said.

“For some of them it’s one of their major activities in any given week.”

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Esports popularity explodes

WITH traditional sports like footy and cricket taking an enforced hiatus during the COVID-19 crisis, Esports has taken control of the driver’s seat as viewers flock to watch their favourite sports stars try their hand at online games.

For the uninitiated, Esports or simply electronic sports, sees professional video gamers compete for glory in online tournaments, with sometimes millions watching around the world through streaming sites like Twitch.

It’s a multi-billion dollar industry, with the top-tier players taking in huge earnings through prize money, sponsorship and endorsements.

And now the growth and viewership of Esports has taken off during isolation as sports fanatics turn to what is one of the only alternatives to regular live competition.

Unable to host real life races, motorsports like IndyCar, Formula 1 and Australian Super Cars are all holding virtual tournaments to fill the void.

Ball sports are also getting in on the action too, with the NBA hosting an online players tournament and some of the biggest clubs in European football getting involved in representative gaming competitions.

With the Australian Supercars Championships suspended until June, a BP Supercars Allstars Eseries is taking place via an iRacing computer simulation platform, with Supercars drivers contesting the race from their respective homes.

The action is being broadcast live on Fox Sports, Kayo and on Facebook, with over 350,000 people tuning in from around the world to watch round one of the online action.

Australian Esports League Executive Director Darren Kwan said the COVID-19 shutdown had brought in a new type of audience to the Esports space because there was a lack of content.

“It’s a significant growth period for the Esports industry,” he said.

“It’s been a huge leap. It’s been explosive.”

Mr Kwan said virtual motorsport was easily the fastest growing market.

“Bringing in the superstar power of the drivers and the race teams into it really worked,” he said.

“You look at the existing races that had audiences of 800 watching and now they’ve got audiences in the hundreds of thousands watching.”

In a sensational coup, Supercars recruited Formula 1 superstar Max Verstappen as a wildcard for round two of its Allstars Eseries, with the Belgian star finishing second at the virtual Barcelona circuit behind close friend Shane van Gisbergen.

Speaking to Fox Sports, Verstappen said the whole race was a lot of fun.

“These cars are definitely not easy to drive,” he said.

“I really enjoyed it.”

The races are proving a hit all over the country, including locally in Albany, with GoldMX radio host and self-confessed racing fanatic Damien Watson telling the Weekender he was impressed by the quality of production.

“It’s literally like watching the V8s on the weekend,” he said.

“You’ve even got Neil Crompton doing the commentary. They do a great job, it’s extremely professional. It surprised me.”

Mr Watson doesn’t just love watching motorsports; he is passionately involved in iRacing too and has even had the chance to race with the like of van Gisbergen during online practice sessions.

“I love watching them race, but I hate seeing how good they are compared to me,” he said.

“I have been on the track with a couple of them, and they make me look amateur, and I’ve been doing this most of my life.”

Mr Watson said iRacing had been around for about a decade, but participation had skyrocketed since the COVID-19 shutdown.

“It’s about three times the amount of users online you would normally see at any one time now,” he said.

“This is a way for Esports to get into the mainstream. This is reaching a target audience Esports could have only dreamed of.”

Such is the momentum, Mr Kwan said the Australian Esports League had been approached by local councils and state governments to set-up online tournaments for various PG-rated games where residents could get together and form some friendly competition.

“That’s something we never thought would happen,” he said.

“There are a lot of bored people at home who need this to take their mind off things.”

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Golf fever hits during virus

WHILE most social and competitive sport has been brought to a grinding halt, golf is one popular pastime that has escaped an industry-wide COVID-19 ban.

There has been some debate whether golf should be allowed to continue at all, with Golf Australia’s formal recommendation “that all golf clubs and facilities should close until further notice.”

But at state level, GolfWA hasn’t gone so far as to recommend a blanket ban, simply stating clubs should follow State Government restrictions if they wish to stay open.

At the end of last month, WA’s Prohibited Gatherings Directions came into place, effectively prohibiting gatherings of two or more people unless they usually live in the same household.

The directions meant social golf in WA could continue if players stuck to groups of two and practiced correct social distancing rules.

Locally, Albany Golf Club has had to make some significant changes to the way it operates but remains open to members who wish to play.

General Manager Dan Northcott said being able to play golf was important for its members’ mental health.

“It’s purely for the exercise, fresh air and getting out of the house,” he said.

The club’s bar and restaurant have had to shut down, while flag sticks, bunker rakes and ball washers have all been removed.

“Anything they can touch we basically took out of play for their safety,” Mr Northcott said.

Taking the advice of GolfWA and State Government, rather than Golf Australia, Mr Northcott said the club was adapting its rules as the pandemic evolved.

“In terms of the playing, it was incremental steps for about a two-week period,” he said.

“It was changing daily in terms of what we could do. We went from four players per group down to two. We widened our time slots and spread our groups out further.

“There was a lot of confusion around what agencies were saying what. Golf Australia was saying one thing, governments were saying another. Really, we just went under what State Government was recommending.”

Once COVID-19 restrictions came into place, Mr Northcott said Albany Golf Club had been getting about 50 players per day, which was a drastic reduction on usual playing numbers.

Mr Northcott said the club was now only open to members because they couldn’t directly communicate with public players on new restrictions.

“As far as I’m aware the public golf courses are shut,” he said.

“The main reason being they can’t communicate with the general public, whereas with members we have a database and can directly control the way they come in and play their golf.

“We didn’t want to do it, but we had to say members only and knock back a huge number of visitors who still want to come and play locally. If we opened it up it would be chaos.”

Club member Pauline Ruoss said she had been worried the golf club would remain closed throughout the crisis because getting on the green was an important part of her week.

“Without that it’s a big chunk out of your life,” she said.

During a challenging period, Ms Ruoss said it was great to be able to still get out of the house and talk to other people in person.

“A lot of our group are over the age of 60 and a lot of the ladies live on their own, so being fairly isolated and living on their own at home, this is great for mental wellbeing,” she said.

The keen golfer usually tees off twice a week on a Thursday and Saturday but Ms Ruoss she had now been playing even more to soak up some extra spare time.

“Not that it’s doing my golf any good but I’m playing a lot more and enjoying it,” she said.

Mr Northcott’s greatest concern was if the pandemic got worse and further restrictions affected course maintenance.

“Not looking after it for a month could take years to repair and get it back to the state it is in,” he said.

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Cricket’s road to redemption

DOCU-SERIES REVIEW

The Test – Amazon Prime Video

4 / 5 stars

IF AMAZON’S behind-the-scenes docu-series on the Australian cricket team doesn’t go some way to winning back some of your affection for the national side, there’s no doubt it will earn back a bit of your respect.

If, like me, you had fallen out of love with Australian cricket after ‘Sandpaper Gate’, The Test acts somewhat as a therapy session to repairing that relationship.

Growing up watching the likes of Shane Warne, Glenn McGrath and Ricky Pointing – Australia’s next batch of stars always had an incredibly hard act to follow.

It wasn’t just their heroics on the field that this generation never seemed to match.

Whether media training or micro-managing coaches had stifled the personalities out of the players, it seemed this batch of cricketers were a bit lifeless.

Remember when Glenn McGrath used to tell the media the Aussies would win every Ashes series 5-0? Or Warney would joke about celebrating a big win with a beer and a ciggie?

It seemed all the characters of Australian cricket had been lost to the commentary box.

And then Cameron Bancroft, on the direction of David Warner and under the supervision of Steve Smith, decided it was a great idea to scuff one side of the ball with sandpaper during a March 2018 test match against South Africa in Cape Town.

For a country that prides itself on ‘a fair go’, the ball-tampering saga was a step too far.

The fallout was spectacular.

The Australian side lost its captain and vice-captain to 12-month bans, while coach Darren Lehman resigned.

Australia’s culture and ethics were rightly questioned.

Where did it all go wrong since that golden era?

And so, in steps Justin Langer, who is charged with the insurmountable task of coaching the national team through one of its darkest periods.

This is where The Test docu-series begins.

At his first press conference as Australian coach Langer says it’s all about earning back respect and making Australians proud of their cricket team once again.

Over the next 16-months, filmmakers follow the Aussie team on their long road back to redemption, intimately capturing behind the scenes footage of the highs and lows of international cricket.

This is the first time we’ve ever really been allowed to see what goes on behind the closely guarded curtain of the Australian dressing room, and it’s compelling viewing.

The producers couldn’t have asked for a better year of cricket either, with an Indian home summer, World Cup and Ashes series all producing some outstanding moments.

Test cricket – at its best – is a rollercoaster of emotions, and The Test doesn’t disappoint on that front.

Reliving the final overs of the Headingly test where Ben Stokes drags England home to an unlikely one-wicket victory is the kind of drama you can’t script.

Watching it from Langer’s perspective proves even more compelling viewing.

The Australian coach kicks a rubbish bin over in frustration after Nathan Lyon misses a simple run-out chance in the dying moments, but then proceeds to pick up every piece of trash off the ground while the drama on the field is unfolding.

It’s a simple act but shows the character of a man trying to teach his side the same level of humility.

This docu-series is all about Australia’s story arc from Cape Town cheaters to Ashes heroes, but there are plenty of heartwarming side stories away from the action too.

Tim Paine’s leadership skills off the field grow exponentially over the 16-months. Aaron Finch fights personal demons to come out the other side a better player.

While Marcus Stoinis and Adam Zampa show us the team isn’t all made up of macho characters.

Yes, there’s quite a bit of swearing, and you might think players are being a bit over the top when they throw their gear around in anger, but that shouldn’t really be the focus here.

We get to know what these cricketers are actually like as people and the Australian public is all the better for it.

The docu-series is essential viewing for any self-confessed cricket tragic.

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Racing in WA to continue

WHEN Tasmania’s State Government banned all horse racing activities in a bid to protect regional communities from COVID-19 it raised the question whether other states like Western Australia should follow suit.

Last Thursday Tasmanian Premier Peter Gutwein sent shockwaves through the racing industry when he announced horse racing and greyhound racing would be suspended for at least a month to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Tasmania’s Minister for Racing Jane Howlett said the decision, which affects close to 5000 workers, was a ‘necessary one’ based on public health advice.

On Monday Ms Howlett announced a support package of about $2 million per month to keep the Tasmanian racing industry afloat.

So far there has been no indication from the WA Government or Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) that an industry-wide suspension is being considered on the west coast.

RWWA General Manager of Racing Charlotte Mills said RWWA was taking the threat of COVID-19 seriously and had implemented a range of bio-security measures to protect the industry’s workforce.

“RWWA is continuously monitoring State and Federal Government advice to ensure that the racing industry is and in many cases beyond compliant,” she said.

Only essential personnel are allowed access to WA racecourses, according to Ms Mills.

“Compliance support officers ensure social distancing and good hygiene practices are adhered to at WA racecourses, with stewards having powers to take action against anyone not complying to the stringent requirements,” she said.

But the AMA President of the WA branch Andrew Miller questioned why racing in WA should continue when almost every other sport had stopped competition and practice.

“Anytime where people are getting together in groups – even if there are no spectators there – clearly is a source for it to be spread around,” he said.

“While we are still getting a handle on this disease and while we aren’t prepared properly on the front line, particularly in regional areas, we need to be conservative.

“We realise this is a terrible inconvenience for everyone, including the animals, but we have to take one for the community at the moment.”

Mr Miller said if greyhound and horse racing continued throughout the pandemic it sent the community a mixed message.

“Complexity of rules creates problems for social distancing,” he said.

“I’m sure they’re doing their best, but if there’s an exemption for them then why not other sports?

“It gets a bit confusing for everyone, especially with the ban being in one state and not others.”

Ms Mills argued any industry ban would affect the wellbeing of racing animals.

“There are over 13,000 animals in Western Australia directly dependent on racing continuing,” she said.

“Racing industry participants heavily rely on the conduct of racing for their income to be able to care and support both their families and their animals.”

Under Tasmania’s ruling, industry employees essential to the welfare of racing animals will keep their jobs during suspension.

To reduce the travel of racing participants, RWWA has consolidated race meetings to 11 out of 51 racetracks, including Albany and Kalgoorlie.

Albany Racing Club will host three race meets in the next month, including this weekend’s Ladies Day Easter Races on Sunday.

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Trampoline queen Ruby scores silver

TRAMPOLINING star Ruby Beckett has continued her impressive run of form at state level, taking out two silver medals at national qualifiers in Perth last month.

The 10-year-old Denmark product proved she’s one of WA’s brightest young talents on the trampolining scene, scoring a massive 5.3 points over what she needed to qualify for the under 13 nationals.

Ruby would have gone on to represent WA at the Australian Championships in May, but that event has since been cancelled.

It would have been the second time Ruby competed at a national level.

Ruby’s coach, Kay Panton, said it was an incredible achievement considering Ruby’s age and the time she spent practising trampolining.

“She only trains a few hours a week, whereas the kids from Perth probably train about 12 hours,” she said.

Panton said Ruby had a knack for performing well under pressure when it mattered most.

“She tends to pull it out of the bag on the day,” Panton said.

“In warm-ups she will fall on her bum every single time and then come the actual event she’s perfect.”

Panton said Ruby was one of the most talented kids she’d ever coached and could go all the way if she started training more often.

“Ruby’s an up and coming star, she’s got something really special” Panton said.

Ruby’s mum, Melita Kingsford, said Ruby was very disappointed she couldn’t go to nationals anymore but at least had a trampoline at home to practise on during isolation.

“She was really looking forward to it,” Ms Kingsford said.

“She went when she was eight and would have known what to expect this time round.”

Ms Kingsford said Ruby had fallen in love with the sport three years ago during a try out at Flip Zone trampoline and gymnastics club in Albany.

Ms Panton, who owns and runs the club, said Flip Zone would be reopen its doors once social distancing measures were relaxed.

“We are looking forward to welcoming all the kids back,” she said.

“I’m missing it terribly.”

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Laurie in AFLW national team

DENMARK footballer Parris Laurie has earned a spot in the AFLW 2020 Team of the Year after a standout season in the ruck with the West Coast Eagles.

Part of the Eagles’ inaugural AFLW team, Laurie averaged 18 hit-outs, nine disposals, two marks and nearly three tackles per game.

The 25-year-old was twice nominated in the AFLW team of the week, including a commanding Round 2 performance against Fremantle where she finished with 27 hit-outs.

The personal accolade is a shining light in an otherwise difficult season for the first-year Eagles who only managed one win from six games and finished bottom of conference B.

West Coast were on the receiving end of some ugly thrashings in their debut AFLW season, going down by 45-points in the Round 2 derby against Fremantle and suffering a 59-point thumping in Round 5 against Melbourne.

While the results look bad on paper, Laurie said the season had been an invaluable learning experience for the young Eagles team.

“This year was about setting the foundations and learning to play with one another and learning the standards we need to play at,” she said.

“It was more about our improvement each week. We definitely progressed as the season went on and started to play out games much better towards the end.”

Even amongst the big losses, Laurie said a tight group of players had enjoyed a ‘special’ season together.

“Even if you are the new team and you don’t have the highest of expectations, we still definitely felt the losses,” she said.

“But being a close group, we were all smiles when we got back to training on Mondays and were looking forward to the next game.”

Persistence paid off in Round 4 when the Eagles made history with their first ever AFLW win.

The nail-biting four-point win at Leederville Oval against the Western Bulldogs was a memorable moment for Laurie, who was named amongst the Eagles’ best players for the day.

“It’s definitely my favourite win to date,” Laurie said.

“Everyone was on top of the world, it was an awesome feeling and I’ll never forget it.”

The 2020 season is Laurie’s second year playing AFLW having made her debut for Fremantle in 2019.

Laurie was selected by the Dockers with pick 49 in the national draft and she played eight games last year before crossing to the Eagles.

Having access to a full-time ruck coach at West Coast was a big part of the decision, according to Laurie.

“Knowing that I would have a full-time ruck coach going across to the Eagles was big for me,” she said.

“I’m not as tall in comparison to other rucks, so I really need some tricks up my sleeve in order to beat them.

“Freo couldn’t offer that. It was a hard decision, but I haven’t looked back.”

The 178cm ruck said it had been a privilege to be involved in the Eagles inaugural team.

But she would have liked to have played a full season so the side could continue its development.

Last month AFL CEO Gillon McLachlan made the decision to cancel the 2020 AFLW competition without a premier.

The home and away season had finished two games early to fast track a finals competition, but only got one week in before the series came to a grinding halt because of COVID-19 measures.

Fremantle, Carlton, North Melbourne and Melbourne had progressed to the preliminary finals, but those games will never be played.

With the AFL facing a dire financial position, there has been talk the women’s season might not go ahead in 2021, but Laurie said she was trying to remain optimistic.

“I know teams are go-ng through some hard times financially and are having to let people go, so it’s a possibility, but fingers crossed for now,” she said.

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