The last 18 days of Outback camp and IFAF Women’s World Championships (WWC) tournament has been a roller coaster journey for not only the players, but also the coaches and the support staff.
There isn’t one person who has been a part of this squad for the last 18 months who hasn’t been tested in one aspect or another, who hasn’t learnt something to take back home. For the US coaches, Welter, Konecki and Stone, learning the way the Australians work both from a coaching perspective and understanding the ‘digger mentality’.
The biggest hurdle for the girls in preparation for this competition was not being together, being scattered around the country. Struggling to form the bonds that ultimately make a team a ‘football family”, but since the Outback arrived at Simon Fraser University (SFU) two weeks ago, the trust and teamwork is finally showing through the hard work, preparation and learning to work as a unit. Here in this team lie the foundations for the entire women’s program back home, creating a unit and network of talented athletes to continue the work that Welter, Stone and Konecki have worked so hard to instil.
As the girls take the field for the final practice before facing Finland, battling for 5th placing in the 2017 WWC the energy is better than ever before. With some pressure of the team’s first international competition lifted slightly, you can see that the girls finally feel comfortable. Both with each other and with themselves. They look focused, and ready to finish the competition on a high note.
Watching the coaches reflect on what has been, and looking ahead to the next piece of business, Finland will be no easy opponent. But it’s the culture of the Aussie way that will make all the difference. Determined, underdogs, and lead by fiery US coaches – could this be the Outback Women’s greatest moment of the 2017 tournament?
As QB #14 Casey Cubis takes the starting snaps in practice, she is holding herself better than the previous few games. The offence looks back in rhythm, having the QB step up in control and to be given the chance to lead. This is the time to not hold anything back on offence, and given the opportunity each player could potentially provide something we haven’t seen yet, which makes the offence a much bigger threat.
The Outback defence is still standing strong being lead by #45 CJ Sims, and they have proven their worth in the past two games against Canada and Mexico. The score line for each game doesn’t reflect the game that was on the field. If Coach Stone’s staunch DL unit, and the much improved secondary can hold, the Outback will be in with a fighting chance against a run heavy Finland offence.
This will be THE game to watch for the Aussies, with nothing to lose and everything to gain, watch as the Outback come alive to finish out this tournament with everything that is left in the tank.
Australia v Finland (5th Place Final)
Friday 30th June – 11.30am PDT
Saturday 1st July – 4.30am AEST
By Stacey Speer.
Photographs by Andrew Wills