Saturday April 8 is Opening Day for all of our teams, including our eighth entry into the VAFA competition.
Already the largest club in the VAFA (excluding those who have affiliated juniors), the Old Xavs have expanded again. And this time, it is the women who enter the spotlight for the very first time.
Women have long provided a strong backbone at our club, with many mothers, wives and girlfriends contributing not only sterling support from behind the pickets and at home, but also raising money and organising events.
The Old Xavs were pioneers with women in football. We had a female president, Davina Connors-Calhaem, more than a decade ago. We had a female GM, Carrie Stoney. We've had women on the club's general committee and on various sub-committees.
But from Opening Day 2017, we will have a Women's Team. In true Xaverian style, the club decided not to dip a toe in the water, but to dive right in.
We secured a Victorian women's football legend, former goalkicking ace Rohenna Young, to coach our young brigade and they have been at it since November. Then big Chopper Handley raised his hand and came on board as Ro's assistant.
This pair has kicked over a thousand goals between them, so don't expect a game-plan built on defence.
So what do we know?
- Despite the rumours that women had more of a laissez-faire attitude to pre-season training, the numbers on the track have been excellent from the first night.
- Already, the ladies have proven to be early payers, with the vast proportion already having paid their subs.
- In contrast to the men's teams, the representation from alumni of Xavier College is poor. (Actually, non-existent, but that will improve as graduates of the co-ed Early Learning Centre come of age.)
- The women will play most of their games at Xavier College, but debut at Toorak Park against Collegians in their first ever hit-out.
- Maddie Sorrenti was the first ever registered female footballer for Old Xaverians in our 95 year history.
- The 2017 team will be led by Emily Archer, supported by Grace Knox, Christina Sgarbossa, Charlotte Powell-Wright and Gabby Golds.