Local AFL star Elle Ford is determined to move her way up the ranks after making this year’s NSW/ACT Youth Girls State Squad.
Trialing under the Newcastle Academy banner, Elle took on Canberra and Sydney players in Blacktown earlier this month. Despite two losses for the Newcastle team, Elle’s athleticism playing ruck caught the eye of the selectors.
“It’s a pretty tough spot to play,” she said.
Elle’s mum and biggest supporter Sonia Ford said her daughter’s achievement was outstanding.
“There’s actually no one north of Newcastle in the whole state, other than Eleanore that made it into the state academy, and then out of that 120 in the state academy around ACT and NSW, she’s the only one that then made it into the 40 in the state squad,” she said.
She is hoping to take her success one step further than last year, keen to make the national squad.
“I know a lot more about the game now,” Elle said.
A strategic player, Elle said she liked knowing ahead what the game play would be. She also loved the physical challenges involved.
She said she hoped this year’s experience would help her mature as a player.
“I think you can tell the players who haven’t had as much experience. They just seem not as settled on the ground they play on,” she said.
“When you get onto the field, you have to just settle and know what you know and play good footy.”
Sonia said she’d already noticed a difference in Elle’s pre-game attitude.
“Getting control of your nerves and the anticipation to something as big as state selection. Last year Elle found that very overwhelming, whereas this year she was very in control, very focused and had a lot of really good strategies that work for her about how to go onto the field in the right head space,” she said.
Elle said the game was just as psychological as it was physical. To give herself the best shot at making the nationals she said she just wanted to play her best and focus on the basics.
“Sometimes you get out on the field and you want to do all this big stuff and make a big show, but sometimes you need to remember the basics and just the little stuff, and the selectors will pick that up,” she said.
Elle will take on Queensland in Northern Academy Series in Coffs Harbour this weekend. The NSW/ACT squad will be split into teams named the Giants and Swans, and will compete against the Suns and Lions.
The final Youth Girls State team will be selected from the Academy Series by April 30, set for the national championship in May and July.
Elle was pleased to see the women’s competition continue to grow. “Just bringing it to people’s attention that women can actually play the game and that they’re good at it, and sometimes they can even be better than the men,” she said.