Our inaugural Women's Coach Rohenna Young has remarkable football credentials, having coached both Victoria University (VU) and Darebin Falcons to premierships and to a pennant at the Southern University Games. She holds a Full Blue from VU and is a life member of the VWFL. That competition’s Leading Goal Kicker award was named in her honour.
Rohenna holds a BSc from VU and an MBA from VU/Université de Reims Champagne-Ardenne and is employed at VU as Manager of Sports Facilities. She resisted many calls to return to coaching but did not hesitate to put up her hand to coach the Old Xavs.
On the eve of the first hit-out for our Women's team, we sat down with her to talk about her squad and the season ahead.
Q. Congratulations on your appointment as our first coach. You’ve been at it since November and how have you viewed the off-season, particularly with regard to the attitude of the players?
Young: The players attitudes have been fantastic – they are constantly asking questions wanting to know more and not only learn the skills of the game but really learn how to play footy.
Q. What are your aspirations for the inaugural season?
Young: With a group of players that have never played footy before, the aim of this year is to have them learn the game and improve each week. The players have shown great passion for the game and have taken every challenge head on, so I would hope that we are really competitive. Of course, I would love to see us in a finals campaign.
Q. How has it been coming into a club that has largely been a male domain?
Young: The club has been really welcoming and supportive. Everyone has been lovely and embraced the players and me.
Q. How have the male players responded to sharing the track with the women?
Young: They have also shown support and encouragement to all of the women. I think they are all footballers and so have a common purpose and so understand each other well.
Q. How many of the squad have played football before?
Young: Virtually none. There are one of two that have played a couple of games of school footy and one that has played youth girls. 95% have never played a game before.
Q. Some of the squad has obviously played other sports. Are there any star converts?
Young: Pretty much all have played other sports - Netball, Basketball, Soccer, Rowing, Rugby - to a pretty decent level. It is interesting how they have adapted the skills from those other sports to football.
Q. Are you more like Mick Malthouse (defence first) or Tommy Hafey (most goals wins!)?
I think that you know I am going to say kicking goals is the key! Saying that, I think that making a contest at every opportunity across the ground is vital, and so even our forwards need to be good, hard defenders when the opposition has the ball.
Q. You have Matt Handley as your assistant - how is he shaping up as a mentor? Has he been able to demonstrate some of the finer points to the women?
Young: Chopper is great with the team. He is so enthusiastic and relates really well to them all. The squad think he is great. Chopper sees all the little things that will make a difference and so it will be fantastic, especially on game day, to have someone like him on the team.
Q. Tell us a little about your leadership group.
Young: The group is headed up by Emily Archer, who has shown great leadership from the first day we met. Supporting her in the leadership group, Charlotte Powell-Wright, Gabby Golds, Cristina Sgarbossa and Grace Knox, all bring different qualities to the team. All have shown great initiative and enthusiasm and have made sure every new person is welcomed. As a result, the group has morphed from a bunch of individuals to a strong team.
Q. Thanks Rohenna and good luck. Any parting words?
Young: GO XAVS!