In just three short years, Bond University’s women’s AFL team – affectionately known as the Sharkettes - has taken the women’s football world by storm and exceeded the expectations of their competitors, their coach and even themselves.
This Sunday the Sharkettes will go head-to-head with Yeronga South Brisbane in the QWFA Division 1 grand final – an awesome achievement considering this is only the team’s third year in competition, and one which is being largely attributed to their incredible coaching team.
Head Coach, David Ashkar has over 25 years’ experience on the Gold Coast as a player/coach at a state representative level, including coaching the men’s Queensland U18’s team and Gold Coast Suns U16’s team, but coaching the women’s program at Bond University has been Ashkar’s first foray into women’s football.
With the support of assistant coaches Roger Remman, David Williams and Darren Williams, the women’s team has developed in leaps and bounds this season and now has victory in its sights ahead of Sunday’s grand final at Yeronga.
“At the beginning of the season, half the team had never played football before, so we started with the basics,” Ashkar said.
“We developed week by week, learnt lessons from what we could have done better, and put in place an ongoing series of learnings and changes, so the team continually grew and improved as the season progressed.
“What we also did early doors was develop a game plan. After educating the team on the plan and what it meant, we then turned our focus to upskilling the team to carry out the plan – which they have done beautifully.”
Despite having beaten Yeronga twice before, the Sharkettes are leaving nothing to chance in their preparation for the weekend’s match.
“The girls have been training really well and really hard; they’re confident and on a high,” Ashkar said.
“If they bring the effort on Sunday, which they always do, and channel their energy into the right areas, we’ll do well.
“My objective at the beginning of the season was for us to finish top three – and we’ve already exceeded that by making it to the grand final, so what they do on the field on Sunday is all for them.”
Team captain, and Bond Business student, Kate Reynolds said it was amazing to see how far the team had come together over the course of the season.
“We’ve completely transformed ourselves and overcome some major adversity and obstacles - including team churn and injuries - and that’s largely to do with our incredible coaching team and their experience,” Reynolds said.
“They’ve given us structure, so many news skills and taught us to be professionals.”
Kate said she was very excited about the grand final, albeit a little nervous, and was expecting a good, hard game.
“We’re in with a good shot. We’ve beaten Yeronga before but given their recent form against Aspley, we can expect them to come out all guns blazing,” she said.
“We have nothing to lose and everything to win.”
Team vice-captain, and Bond Sports Management student, Jenna Fulton said the new coaches this season had transformed the culture of the team with their experience and focus.
“I think one of the most important and significant changes David has made, has been introducing four team values – trust, respect, humility and elite – which we apply to everything we do, on and off the field.
“We’ve got a really good culture and we’re a very close, tight-knit group – and this pays dividends on the field.
“We’ve played Yeronga twice and beaten them twice, but we’re at their home ground, which will be a challenge. We’ve just got to bring it, come Sunday.”
Applications for the Riewoldt Family AFL Excellence Scholarship close this Friday, 1 September. The scholarship provides an opportunity for one male and one female to enhance their footballing career whilst studying at Bond, and offers 100% tuition remission for any single undergraduate or postgraduate degree or diploma, excluding the Bond Medical Program. Full scholarship details can be found here.