Last night some of the most talented young female footballers in the Territory were officially welcomed into the Under 18 NT Thunder Women’s Academy initial squad when they and their parents attended an Academy induction session.
The squad of more than 70 talented footballers aged 16 to 19 is being assembled ahead of a new-look campaign in 2020. It is currently filled with mostly Alice Springs, Darwin, Katherine and Tiwi Islands-based talent, but is set to expand once the Under 18 NT Thunder Women's remote player camp is help at the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre in the second last weekend of February.
Making the initial squad is the first step to being selected to represent the Under 18 NT Thunder Women’s Academy team that will compete in the NAB League competition, playing against Tasmania, Western Jets and Bendigo in April this year.
The team will also play a two-game series against Tasmania at the start of June in order to select the Allies team comprised of the most talented NSW, ACT, Tasmanian and Northern Territory players to compete at the NAB AFLW U18 National Championships held in July.
NT Thunder Women’s Academy Manager Heidi Thompson said it was an exciting time for women’s football in the Territory.
“We can see that we have a skilful and competitive group who will drive high standards to get the best out of each other,” Thompson said.
“We believe the fast development of our underage talent can be attributed to over half the group being exposed to a thriving NTFL Women’s Premier League competition.
“Each weekend, I am able to see some of our most talented underage players slogging it out against senior women, which really highlights how far they have come in such a short period.
“I am thrilled to be working with our future stars and cannot wait to see what 2020 brings.”
Players were selected based on last year’s Academy performances, 2019/2020 TIO NTFL performances and their attitude both on and off the field.
The initial squad will be reduced in the lead up to NAB League matches after a lengthy training phase that began in January and will end in March.
Training will take place twice per week to begin with and then increase to three nights a week after the NTFL season has concluded.
This will give players more time to gel as a group and also be exposed to increased education to assist them on and off the field.