Sport

Fitness is pre-season focus for Echuca women

By Fraser Walker-Pearce

IT IS only the first week of pre-season training for the Echuca Women’s Football Club, but the team is already looking at going one better in 2019.

After a devastating four-point loss in the preliminary final to arch rivals Shepparton Bears — who went on to become premiers — Echuca has already set its sights on reaching the big dance.

And for good reason.

Coach Mick McInnes was just as hurt by the narrow margin loss in August as the rest of his team, and said he has a plan in place to ensure the side has every chance of making it this time around.

‘‘I just want them fitter than they were this year. That’s not to say they weren’t fit this year, but it’s a chance to step up our game and be the best in the league,’’ McInnes said.

Echuca’s first pre-season come-and-try night was held at Victoria Park last night. And McInnes said it is not only a chance for last season’s players to prepare, it’s an opportunity for any women interested in the game to join in.

‘‘I’m looking forward to seeing a few new faces and all the old ones, although nothing too much has happened in our off season.

‘‘It’s not like we can go out and recruit, but with these come-and-try days for the next three weeks we’re hoping to have a few new players down to see if they like it.

‘‘And it gives a chance for the older ones to get back into it — but they’ll be the ones working hard,’’ he laughed.

The 2018 edition of the Northern Country Women’s League saw seven sides compete, but the new season is likely to bring in an eighth team.

‘‘Tatura are likely to have a side, we all met up a couple weeks ago and they think they’ll be able to put a team together, which is great.

‘‘I’m not aware of any teams leaving the competition either, because everyone enjoyed it and so did the players,’’ he said.

McInnes said it’ll be a ‘‘wait and see’’ over the next three weeks of pre-season trainings, finding out whether the full 2018 contingent will stay or go.

‘‘There are a few I think who are going to uni so we’ll wait and see on that.

‘‘But we are definitely keen to keep building on this season and we do not expect to lose many players, so we want to keep that fitness up and maybe go one further.

‘‘If anyone would like to join in, they are welcome from 6pm at Vic Park on Tuesdays and Thursday for the next three weeks,’’ he said.