Becky cho­sen for acad­emy

Benalla Ensign - - Sport - By Tyler Ma­her

Just a week after Nathalia’s Reni Hicks was drafted to Carl­ton a clear path has opened up for two more Goul­burn Val­ley prod­ucts to chase their dreams.

Mur­ray Bushrangers duo Re­becca Webster and Mil­lie Brown are among 44 young hope­fuls in­cluded in next year’s AFL Women’s Acad­emy squads, which were an­nounced on Wed­nes­day night.

The pair will re­ceive expert coach­ing and guid­ance from some of the game’s best play­ers — in­clud­ing su­per­star Erin Phillips — as well as hav­ing ac­cess to ath­lete man­age­ment sys­tems, high­per­for­mance train­ing camps and AFL clubs as part of the schol­ar­ship.

Last year’s in­au­gu­ral acad­emy, which con­sisted of 33 play­ers, yielded 11 draftees at last week’s draft — a high suc­cess rate that will give the lo­cal girls plenty of con­fi­dence in their own chances.

Brown and Be­nalla ex­port Webster are no strangers to each other, both suit­ing up for Shep­par­ton District Ju­nior Foot­ball League club Mooroopna as well when they get the chance.

‘‘I’m very ex­cited for Mil­lie and for Bec Webster,’’ Mil­lie’s fa­ther Paul said.

‘‘She’s a great player and the two of them get on great and bounce off each other when they play to­gether.’’

Webster snared AFL Women’s un­der-18 Al­lAus­tralian rep­re­sen­ta­tion after a best-on-ground per­for­mance for Vic­to­ria Coun­try this year, and has been in­cluded in the level two squad, of which play­ers will be el­i­gi­ble for next year’s draft.

Mooroopna prod­uct Brown has been placed in the level one squad, which gives 16-year-olds the chance to ex­pe­ri­ence an elite en­vi­ron­ment in prepa­ra­tion for their draft at the end of 2019, on the back of strong per­for­mances for Vic­to­ria Coun­try and the Bushrangers, in­clud­ing the club’s Youth Girls TAC Cup best-and-fairest award.

‘‘Mil­lie is very ex­cited and very sur­prised, but she has been go­ing pretty well with win­ning the Bushies’ best-and-fairest and be­ing in­volved in the Vic Coun­try side as a bot­tom-age player,’’ Paul, who played 84 games for Gee­long, said.

‘‘She’s re­ally look­ing for­ward to be­ing in­volved at that elite level and get­ting ex­posed to great coaches and other play­ers.

‘‘To be honest I don’t pass on too much wis­dom un­less she asks a ques­tion, I like to sit back and let her take her own path.’’

AFL Women’s fe­male tal­ent op­er­a­tions man­ager Aasta O’Con­nor is look­ing for­ward to work­ing with the league’s next gen­er­a­tion of su­per­stars.

‘‘The suc­cess of the in­au­gu­ral acad­emy can be seen with 11 play­ers be­ing added to AFLW lists at the re­cent NAB AFL Women’s Draft,’’ O’Con­nor said.

‘‘In the next 12 months we will be work­ing to pre­pare the best young fe­male tal­ent for AFLW foot­ball.’’

On right track: Be­nalla’s Becky Webster is one of two Goul­burn Val­ley hope­fuls in­cluded in the AFL Women’s acad­emy squad.

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