THE Northern Country Women’s League’s inaugural season will kick off on May 7 after the fixture was released on Tuesday.
Echuca will begin its campaign at home, taking on North Bendigo.
The team put its first win of the season on the board on Saturday in a practice match against Shepparton Bears.
Under the lights at Victoria Park Oval, Echuca battled back and forth with the Bears through the first quarter before establishing its dominance by half-time.
It took control of the game in the second half to record a comfortable victory.
Coach Mick McInnes was pleased with the display from his side.
‘‘It was a very good performance, everything we’ve been working on in training went to plan,’’ he said.
‘‘In our first game against Bendigo Thunder they were very slick and we couldn’t get our style going, so this was a lot better.’’
He said the side’s midfield would be a strength throughout the season.
‘‘It was dominant on the weekend with a lot of play through Chrystal Baker, she was our focal point,’’ McInnes said.
He also said centre half-back Jodie Lake had stood out during the contest.
McInnes said the win further energized his side which was already raring to go.
‘‘We can’t get too excited with the win because it was just a practice game, but the girls were all very pumped after the game,’’ he said.
‘‘Especially the ones that haven’t played much, or in some cases any sport before, it was great for them to be a part of a win.’’
The women have been training since January, getting ready for the beginning of the new competition, and McInnes said the level of enthusiasm had been a constant throughout.
‘‘They come from all different backgrounds and they’ve all been waiting for a go at competing at this level,’’ he said.
‘‘Seven or eight of our girls are getting around that 30 year-old mark, and that’s not to say they’re over the hill, but they’ve certainly been waiting a while for this opportunity.
‘‘That excitement comes out in training, they’re so keen to learn and to compete.’’
He said the basics had been drilled right from the start of pre-season training.
‘‘I thought (January) was a bit early to start training but in the end I’m glad that was when we did start,’’ he said.
‘‘We needed that time to focus on the basics and we’ve got a really good fitness base now.
‘‘We’ve worked on winning the hard footy, getting in there and winning the ball and getting it to the outside so we can use our spread.’’
With the competition in its first edition, the coach said he did not know what to expect for the opposition teams.
‘‘I’ve got no idea to tell you the truth,’’ McInnes said.
‘‘Shepparton played in a Melbourne competition last season so most sides could be around that level, but it’s hard to get a gauge.
‘‘We have to hone in more on what we want to do and not worry about the other teams.’’
The NCWL home and away season will run until the end of July, with the top four ranked teams to contest a three week finals campaign.
The grand final will be played on August 13.