Local girls to be part of Sydney Swans history

The QBE Sydney Swans Academy’s senior girls squads will create history on Sunday when they run out to play in the red and white for the first time.

Front and centre will be four locals, with Phoebe Baptiste and Poppy Johnston both selected in the Under 17 team, and Shania King and April Devine included in the Under 19 team.

“It’s going to be a momentous day,” said Jared Crouch, Academy head coach.

Crouch knows about big moments in Sydney Swans history, having been part of the 2005 AFL Grand Final victory, breaking a 72-year premiership drought.

So he’s excited about coaching the Academy’s recently-formed female Under 17 and Under 19 teams when they take on the GWS Giants Academy this Sunday at Tom Wills Oval at Sydney Olympic Park, Homebush.

“It’s a huge moment for me as a coach,” Crouch said. “We’ll always look back at the start, where it all began when the Swans had their first official female teams.”

The Under 17 game will start at 12:30pm, with the Under 19 game following at 3:10pm. Both matches will be live streamed with the link to be provided closer to the game.

The QBE Sydney Swans Academy has been expanded this year to include 80 young women aged 16 to 19. The 2021 girls program now mirrors the long-running boys program, developing players aged from 11 to 19.

Coaching young women is a whole new world for Crouch, who is the father of three sons, but he’s loving it.

“It’s a fantastic new challenge. The girls’ enthusiasm is outstanding, their ability to learn is great and it’s surprised (fellow Academy coach) Nick Davis and I how quickly they have come along in the past two months.”

He and Davis are assisted by two female coaches, Kathryn Hull and Bron Gulden (Errol Gulden’s mum) and Crouch said it’s working well.

“We’ll just be looking for the girls to show lots of energy on Sunday and to show the things we’ve been working on – to understand the power of a handball and supporting each other.”

Sunday’s matches are the first of a two-game series against the Giants and are part of the selection process for the Allies team to play in the AFLW National U17 and U19 Championships on the Gold Coast in April.


Click here to watch the U17 game from 12:30pm on Sunday 21st February

Click here to watch the U19 game from 3:15pm on Sunday 21st February