Local AFLW pioneer honoured with medal

By Brad Greenshields/Coffs Coast Advocate

AS A former SawtellToormina junior who played in the inaugural AFLW season with the Brisbane Lions, Nikki Wallace has been honoured by the AFL North Coast.

The best player for the season in the Youth Girls competition each year will be awarded the Nikki Wallace Medal.

The 23 year-old was at the C.ex Coffs International Stadium on Sunday to present the Youth Girls’ equivalent of the Brownlow to Coffs Breakers player Cassidy Ronalds as well as watch the climax of the first Youth Girls season in this region.

Wallace said watching young girls run around playing against each other is so different to 10 years ago when she was a local Saint.

“Back when I was playing here there was no pathway around this area for girls,” she said.

“I had to move to Brisbane to have a chance to even go for it and even in Brisbane the pathway for girls wasn’t good at all.”

Sunday’s Youth Girls grand final saw the Coffs Breakers produce a dazzling second quarter to defeat Grafton 7.3 (45) to 4.8 (32).

Matisse Martin (Breakers) and Lilly Doyle (Grafton) were deemed to be the best players on the day for their respective teams.

Wallace said the key to continuing the success of the first local season was for the players to continue their love and enjoyment for the game.

“The important thing is to just keep having fun and invite their friends,” she said.

“Get them to come to training and tell everyone how fun it is play. Skills and development will follow after that.”

In addition to the rapid rise of Youth Girls footy, the North Coast is experiencing unprecedented interest in Women’s AFL (ages 16+). A number of matches have already been staged to tap into this interest, with the next chance to join in being during the Senior competition Grand Final day on Saturday (2 September). A Women’s demonstration match will be played as part of the day, commencing at 2:10pm, at C.ex Coffs International Stadium, with no experience required. Anyone interested in playing, or wanting to know more about any aspect of female footy, should call the AFL Northern NSW office on 6659 6000.