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Thunder's Baldwin reaches 50-game milestone

Echuca's Sarah Baldwin played her 50th game for the Bendigo Thunder on Sunday.

ERIN LYONS July 31, 2014 3:05am

Echuca footballer Sarah Baldwin was the first female to reach the 50-game milestone for Bendigo Thunder on Sunday.

After stepping up to the premier division this season, Thunder is yet to achieve a victory.

Having endured another unforgiving 35.21(231) to 0.0(0) point loss to Melbourne University on Sunday, Baldwin kept her head held high during the momentous match.

‘‘It felt great. I feel pretty privileged to be the first female at the club to reach this milestone,’’ she said.

‘‘It’s certainly a lot harder for women to reach the 50 game and beyond mark.

‘‘The club and girls are really thriving. Even though we’re being defeated by huge margins, the only way is up and we’re earning so much respect from the metro clubs.’’

Baldwin, vice-captain of Bendigo Thunder, joined the club in 2011 and since then has bought home two consecutive north-west division flags in the Victorian Women’s Football League.

The full-back also represented Vic Country against urban rivals Vic Metro last month.

Having only endured minor wounds during her career, Baldwin has also been fairly fortunate on the injury front, making the race to 50 a little less time-consuming.

‘‘I’ve been pretty lucky not to miss too many games due to injury. I broke two fingers last year but I only had to miss a few weeks,’’ she said.

Following four seasons, two premierships and 50 games for the club, Baldwin remains confident the girls will continue to pull it together over the next few seasons.

‘‘Ultimately, we aim to win a game. Each week, we hope to make improvement on the ground, we set small goals even if it’s just scoring a goal that week,’’ she said.

‘‘We’re such a young team to play against and since two years ago, I feel like we’ve been in a rebuilding era.’’

Baldwin, who has been playing country football for six years, strives to help her team grow and eventually become competitive with the metropolitan clubs.

‘‘It’s hard playing for a country club against all the inner city teams because more women play in that area,’’ she said.

‘‘So we need to take a step and recruit more players next year.

‘‘It’s completely different now compared to what it was two years ago, having won the last two premierships.

‘‘We need to learn about what we need to do to be a driving force in the league.’’

The combination of internal drive to help her team improve has also fuelled individual goals.

‘‘I want to improve on my fitness, the girls we play are machines, they just run and run and run,’’ she said.

‘‘We don’t have the numbers to sub so it’s something I want to work on.’’

Since being introduced to youth girls football six years ago, Baldwin hopes to make it to 100.

‘‘It’s definitely a longer process. I mean I’ve been playing for six years and I’ve only just reached it, but it would be such a privilege.’’

Bendigo Thunder takes on Diamond Creek at Plenty War Memorial Park on Sunday.

Erin Lyons

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