ARARAT Community College student Ella Wood has been selected to represent the School Sport Victoria girls’ football team.
Wood, 15, featured in the North Ballarat Rebels girls squad that competed in the AFL Victoria Youth Girls Academy Challenge in March and April. She has also joined the Ararat Storm in 2016, with its Ballarat Football League season campaign getting underway this Sunday.
The teenager has been travelling to Melbourne once every three weeks to train with the fifteen years and under state girls’ football team. Wood is one of 27 players to be chosen from a training squad of 50.
All the hard work and travel culminates in a week-long School Sports Australia championship carnival. The national championship will be held at Maroochydore, Queensland from July 23-30. The girls are scheduled to play five matches during that period.
School Sports Victoria also has one AFL representative team competing in the 12 years and under championship and another in the boys 15 years and under championship.
Wood, who will play on the wing for Ararat Storm, is excited to be representing her state and school at the upcoming championship.
It was an unexpected call-up for the teenager who, up until earlier this year, hadn’t participated in girls football.
“I wasn’t expecting to make it because there were 90-odd people trying out,” Wood said.
“I felt like I was talking and really encouraging everyone, and that I did my best.
“I got in the car and mum said, guess what? And she told me. I got really excited and was just so relieved.”
Wood said she was most looking forward to coming up against other states in July, and seeing how everyone plays.
She was asked: What has been the highlight of training with the squad in Melbourne?
“I’ve been able to meet new people, and have gotten to play with others. I’ve never played with girls before – I’ve always played with boys,” Wood said.
The 15-year old explained her decision to join Ararat Storm in 2016.
“I have friends that play there and it’s an Ararat team. Because I’m from Ararat, I thought it’d be good to play for my town,” she said.
Wood has been playing football for eight years, and that includes Auskick. Her brothers played football, with one, Riley, still lining up for Tatyoon in the Mininera and District Football League. Wood is currently working with Ararat Community College’s physical education teacher, Michael Spalding, as she aims to improve her fitness ahead of the championship carnival.
It is a perfect time for Wood and her teammates to strut their stuff among the best junior girls in the land, with the AFL establishing a national women’s league in 2017. There is likely to be four Victorian clubs granted licences, and one each for South Australia, Western Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.
Meanwhile, Ararat Storm’s Ballarat Football League season kicks off on Sunday against Lake Wendouree at C E Brown Reserve in Wendouree. The match gets underway at 2:15 pm.