Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Echuca footballers train with Bendigo Thunder

Five Murray Bombers players trained with the Victorian Women's Football League club as it seeks to find talented players in the region.

LUKE MCMANUS July 4, 2014 3:38am

Echuca footballers Alyx Glanville, Sophie Douglas and Aisha Kirchhofer trained with Bendigo Thunder on Wednesday night.

Echuca became a happy hunting ground for Victorian Women’s Football League club Bendigo Thunder after opening the door to five of the Murray Bombers’ current stars.

Alyx Glanville, Kiara Cooper, Kelly Shotton, Sophie Douglas and Aisha Kirchhofer had a run with their Bendigo-based cohorts on Wednesday, all gaining a taste for one of the highest levels of women’s football.

Bendigo reached out to Echuca coach David Pearson and invited the elected players to train with the premier division club in the hope of unearthing some potential talent.

Pearson said a ‘‘fantastic’’ opportunity awaited his players with the Thunder offering the girls a chance to play (on permits) in games, including Thunder’s VWFL eighth round clash against Darebin on Sunday.

‘‘It shows what opportunities there are, other than just playing in our league,’’ Pearson said.

‘‘I think they’ll be surprised with just how good our girls are.’’

Bendigo Thunder secretary Chris Coughlan said the club was looking forward to hosting the group in the coming weeks, confirming that a place on the team would be awarded depending on the player’s willingness and maturity level.

‘‘Russell Jeffery (coach) said he’d like to keep one spot open each game,’’ Coughlan said.

‘‘At the same time we’re conscious of not taking them away from their local competition or just pushing one of our girls aside.

‘‘We also have a duty of care and we don’t want to just throw them out on the field up against older girls who can physically intimidate them.

‘‘That’s the beauty of training, to get an idea of what they’re like in terms of physicality and maturity.

‘‘Depending on the support from parents, coaches and their own willingness, they’re more than welcome here.’’

The Thunder have reached out to other areas as well, including most Bendigo and Shepparton-based clubs, in the hope of attracting a steady stream of younger, but experienced players, as the club battles to establish its foundations within premier division.

After winning back-to-back premierships in division two, Bendigo was promoted to premier division this season but has found the going tough with many hefty defeats.

Coughlan had high hopes Echuca could be a recruiting gold mine, with the Murray Bombers and Pearson boasting a sound program which won them the inaugural Shepparton and District Youth Girls premiership last season.

Echuca’s Sarah Baldwin, Thunder’s vice-captain, and premiership player Emma Grant have already made an impact at the club in recent seasons and Coughlan believed even more talent was available.

‘‘It’s all about establishing that link with clubs and coaches while giving these girls a chance develop their football,’’ Coughlan added.

Victoria Country representatives Glanville and Shotton were highlighted as potential starters, while Kiara Cooper, fresh from representing the Victorian indigenous team, was also a potential debutante.

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