By Julia Montesano
The Coburg Football Club is delighted to reveal the inaugural Senior Women’s leadership group on the eve of the team taking to the field for the first time in the club’s 130-year history.
The leadership group is led by captain Maddie Edwards, with vice-captain Bailee Said supporting her. The rest of the leadership group is made up of line leaders, with Amy Mitchener leading the back line, Hanna Fosbrooke taking charge of the midfield and Jacquelyn Bromilow spearheading the forward line. The players were voted in by their peers for their exemplary work in upholding the club values: Lead, Unite, Leave a Legacy.
Edwards, 20, is not new to leadership, having held roles at the Eastern Ranges and her junior clubs over the years. She most recently played for Richmond’s VFLW side before taking up a new opportunity with the Lions in 2021. The newly appointed captain is excited to lead this side to success.
“I’m really, really stoked about being appointed captain of Coburg’s Senior Women’s team,” she said. “It probably wasn’t something I was expecting, but I’m just so glad. Coming into a new team this year, it’s such a good environment and I’m just stoked that I’m going to be able to lead it this year.”
Vice-captain Bailee Said, 22, will be a player that leads by experience, having won the EDFL Senior Women’s Best and Fairest in 2018 while playing for the Sunbury Kangaroos. The star midfielder is privileged to be supporting Edwards in a historic year for the club.
“I feel honoured that the girls chose me to be their vice-captain,” Said explained. “I think that it will be a good season and I believe all the girls are improving at each training session. I believe that we’re going to have a good year.”
The Lions’ engine room is lucky to have two stars leading the way, with Hanna Fosbrooke to complement Said in the middle of the ground this year. With no football being played in Victoria in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions, Fosbrooke ventured off to Darwin to play for powerhouse Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) club, St Mary’s. She has already made an impact at Coburg, having led the way in the club’s time trials and being vocal in all training sessions. Fosbrooke looks forward to continuing to support the wider playing group this season.
“I’m pretty stoked with the opportunity,” she said. “I think we’ve got such a great group of girls. Everyone’s really stood up to the various challenges. I’m pretty happy that I got the job.”
Despite being relatively new to football and suffering some setbacks in the lead-up to the 2021 season, Jacquelyn Bromilow has shown up to every training session with a smile and a can-do attitude. After spending most of her career in the Eastern Football League, she is ready to step up to the South Eastern Women’s competition in 2021 alongside her teammates.
“I’m quite humbled to be elected into the leadership group,” she said. “I feel quite privileged as well that my peers considered me as a leader, but mainly humbled that I got the opportunity to be a leader.”
Coburg’s back line will be spearheaded by dual Northern Football Netball League (NFNL) Team of the Year full-back, Amy Mitchener. Not only is Mitchener a star footballer, but she has also tasted the elite level of basketball. But first and foremost, the inspirational Lion is a mother of two young boys and despite the challenges that throws at her, Mitchener has already proved herself as a strong and capable leader.
“I’m feeling very humbled,” she said about getting elected to the leadership group. “I was just so happy to be at the club and that was it. Then, to be voted in by all of my peers to be in the leadership group is just amazing.”
Although the leadership group was voted in by their peers, Senior Women’s coach Liam Cavanagh said he could not be prouder of the group that will lead the way in 2021.
“I remember Jessie Chester (Coburg Senior Women’s back line coach) and I were talking to Maddie Edwards last year, describing the club and the plan,” he said about captain Edwards. “Then from there, Jess and I said to Maddie; ‘We’ll let you think about it and we’ll get back to you.’ The difference was, when we spoke to Maddie, she said; ‘No need to wait Cav, I’m in. I’m ready to go.’ Since that day, Maddie has been all-in every step of the way. She’s turned down AFLW opportunities, she’s turned down VFLW opportunities and she’s shown unwavering leadership the entire time. I’m incredibly grateful that Maddie’s been with us for the entire journey and I couldn’t think of a better person to be our captain and take us forward as a club.”
About Bailee Said’s appointment as vice-captain, Cavanagh explained; “Bailee Said has a really strong leadership style that will complement Maddie very nicely. They both lead differently but lead really, really well so I’m excited to see how those two work together. Bailee’s a player who, on-field, is quite brilliant across the midfield and really leads by example but also, she’s got fantastic intentions about where she wants this team to be and she believes we can be, so I’m really excited to have Bailee in this leadership group.”
As for the rest of the leadership group, Cavanagh has no doubt that Hanna Fosbrooke, Amy Mitchener and Jacquelyn Bromilow will make the club proud in 2021.
“Hanna Fosbrooke will be leading the midfield and particularly on-field. Hanna was an obvious choice for many reasons because of the amount of work she puts in, not just with her midfield but with the entire team to get everyone feeling comfortable, engaged and supported as much as possible, which is what we want in a leader. ‘Fos’ is very good and very engaged when it comes to game plan and structure so I think she’ll be fantastic on-field, knowing where everyone should be standing and providing that on-field leadership.
“I probably didn’t realise how much the leadership group role meant to Amy Mitchener. You could hear how happy she was (when I delivered the news) and it’s fantastic for her to have that opportunity. She’s done an incredible job to have a baby less than 12 months ago and now be back at performing at the highest level possible and in the leadership group as well. I’m really, really proud of Amy. On-field, she’s played professional sport for a long time, she knows what she’s doing, she knows what good team mechanics look like and that’s exactly what she’ll provide to the back line.
“Jacqui has incredible drive and focus. I think that’s something that came out in the camp in particular, we were able to see how much she wants this team, not just to be successful this season, but be successful as a club and for the longevity of the football club. I’m really stoked to have her in that role and while Jacqui, by her own admission, is still learning the game, it’s incredible that at the same time, she’s been recognised as someone that can perhaps help others learn as well up forward. I’m really proud of her.”
In response to the naming of the inaugural Coburg Senior Women’s leadership group, Coburg FC General Manager, Sebastian Spagnuolo said; “We couldn’t be happier or prouder of the leadership group that has been selected by the members of the club’s inaugural Women’s team.
“Our club has had many outstanding and fearless leaders, with the likes of Nick Carnell, Brad Nimmo, Phil Cleary, Anthony Alessio and Ron Beattie to name a few, but Maddie Edwards’ name will now forever be known in our club’s history as the first ever female leader and we are all just so excited for her.
“Maddie’s only just turned 20 years of age so to have been voted by her peers as the leader of the group speaks volumes for her maturity and ability to lead by example and she will have fantastic support from leadership group members Bailee Said, Amy Mitchener, Hanna Fosbrooke and Jacquelyn Bromilow who are all also very deserving of their selection in the leadership group. Within this group there are many fantastic stories of endurance and perseverance but also courage to jump into a new challenge, such as joining a new team, head first and taking the challenge on.
“Since December 2020 when the Women’s team started training, the team has provided the club with so much added energy and excitement and we can not wait for our first game and for our Coburg FC members to get along and support Women wearing our famous blue and red jumper for the first time.
“Liam Cavanagh and his coaching staff have created an inclusive and exciting program that challenges and stimulates the players whilst making it fun and keeping a development focus. The team is off to an amazing start.”