K rock Football

Falcons five await their fate

Geelong Falcons AFLW draft hopefuls Paige Sheppard, Luka Lesosky-Hay, Lucy McEvoy, Mia Skinner and Abbey Chapman. (krockfootball.com.au Image/Al Packer)

On Tuesday, the AFLW Draft will be held in Melbourne where around 100 of football’s brightest young female talents will find homes.

Five Geelong Falcons hope to be amongst those to take their journey to the highest level.

We met with Abbey Chapman, Luka Lesosky-Hay, Lucy McEvoy, Paige Sheppard and Mia Skinner, while coach Jason Armistead also gave us his view on why each girl should be drafted.

ABBEY CHAPMAN

Chapman says: “I haven’t really thought about it (the draft) too much; I’m just waiting to see what happens. I’m really fussed either way. Whatever happens, I’m pretty chilled out about it. I’ve nominated all of Victoria just to keep my options open. I haven’t spoken to many clubs at this stage.”

Armistead says: “Chappy’s been our key back for three years and we’ve had one of the best defences in that time, and she’s led it. She’s going to be perfect as a third tall defender. Her intercept play is her biggest strength. She reads the play really well, cleans up the ball off the ground, and uses her speed to get away from areas and clear the ball. She has an awesome attitude and is just a great team player. She takes everything on board. One of her strengths is that whatever challenge is ahead of her; she just deals with it.

LUKA LESOSKY-HAY

Lesosky-Hay says: “I’m thinking about it (the draft) a lot. But, with school, it’s easier to put in the back of your mind because this week there is nothing we can do other than not get too stressed about it. I spoke to Richmond before the Combine and then spoke to a few clubs at the Combine. It’s my last day of classes on that same day, so it’s going to be a day of emotions for everything. I don’t know if it’s going to be about the draft for me. I think I’ll be in Indonesian class, probably doing a practice exam.”

Armistead says: “Luka’s a contested ball winner. She’s a gun around contests; knows how to use it – whether it’s by hand or by foot. She worked really hard on her fitness this year to make sure it wasn’t a weakness of hers, and she came fifth in the (Draft Combine) yo-yo test. She was pitted against a lot of the good inside midfielders in our comp this year and matched it with them, and beat a few as well. Straight away she’ll make an impact because she knows how to get the footy on the inside, she’s super courageous – she doesn’t take her eye off it. I’ve got no doubt she’ll be fine if she gets drafted.

LUCY McEVOY

McEvoy says: “I’m looking forward to it. It doesn’t feel real just yet. I think when Tuesday come around it will begin to feel more real. I feel like it’s a while away, but it’s really not. We’ve got Monday and Tuesday (of school) left. There’s still a lot of hype around school. We’re finishing now, and it’s a bit exciting. And getting ready for exams takes your mind off it. I got the invite last week, and I’ll make the trip up the highway.”

Armistead says: “I think she needs to keep building on what she’s been doing. Apart from her footy ability, her personality and her attitude are what are going to make her a special player and a special person to have at any club. Whoever gets her in the draft is very lucky. She can play in all spots around the ground. This year she mainly played on the ball for us. But she can play down back, and she can go forward if you need a goal kicked. She’s going to be awesome wherever she goes.”

PAIGE SHEPPARD

Sheppard says: “My Year 12 assembly starts at the same time as the draft. I will have the AirPods in listening to the draft. The first two years (at Falcons), I was one of the younger ones, and I was playing as a small forward and swapping with Liv (Cats young gun Olivia Purcell) into the midfield. But with them (older girls) gone, I had to step up and take over the bigger roles in the team.”

Armistead says: “She is the smartest player I’ve coached over the three years, by far. I’ve said to a few people she’s a bit like (Hawthorn great) Sam Mitchell. She doesn’t look like she’s anything special, but she gets to the right spots before everyone else. When she gets the footy, something always positive happens from it. A lot of the way she plays you can’t teach. I’d love to take credit for how she gets to the right spots all the time, but it’s a natural thing she’s developed. This year she built on her fitness to make sure that wasn’t a weakness, and in her yo-yo test at the Combine she finished fourth, and that show just how far she’s developed that area of her game. I really, really hope someone picks her up. She nearly beat Lucy in our best-and-fairest this year – that’s how highly we rate her.”

MIA SKINNER

Skinner says: “It’s exciting, really. I’m excited at what could come, and if nothing happens, I’ll just work harder next year to try again. After the season I had last year (2018), it was not a great season, and I didn’t expect to come back and be as a good as I was. I put in extra hard yards over pre-season and did all the extra stuff because I knew this is what I wanted to do. The first year, I don’t think it too seriously, and this year I did.”

Armistead says: “She’s probably the best story from a perseverance side of things. Her first year, she didn’t quite understand what she needed to do to play at that level. Then she went away and used the coaches’ feedback she was given to come back (to pre-season) in great condition and just added to her game. She of one those players, if she gets drafted, she’ll make a big impact straight away because she kicks goals, she’s got great workrate, and physically she’s ready to play AFLW, too.”

Twitter: @tom_king79
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