Girls make their mark as Aussie rules gains ground
BAYLIE Hutton, Lily Green and Lily Pharaoh have never played Australian rules football before.
A bit of touch football, a bit of rugby league, but this was their first day playing with the Sherrin ball.
But they can kick, they can mark, they can hand-ball.
And they're part of a history-making vanguard.
Here, deep in rugby league heartland, they are among eight young guns trialling to make the first ever North Burnett representative girls' Australian rules team.
For the past 10 years, Gayndah State School teacher and North Burnett Australian Rules manager Leah Trott has been at the forefront of the fight to inspire the next generation to give the game a go.
"It was not very popular back then,” Mrs Trott recalls.
"My daughter had to play against boys as there was no opportunity for her,” she said.
After son Callan showed interest in the game, Mrs Trott and fellow teacher Michelle Geary decided, since there was no one else, they would take the reins.
"I had no idea about Australian rules,” Mrs Trott said.
"We read a lot of manuals.
"I really enjoy Australian rules now.”
The eight girls were among 33 players aged 10-12 vying to make two teams, a boys' and a girls', to compete in the Wide Bay trials in Hervey Bay next month.
"I'm really satisfied there are this many here today,” Mrs Trott said
"AFL has been been really good in promoting the sport in the area.
"You have to work really hard as there is a mindset of, 'Oh, we don't do that here'.”
Sunshine Coast and Wide Bay talent and coaching co-ordinator Dayne Frew said he was impressed with the energy shown at the trials, which were held at Mundubbera State School.
"Excellent skills, they really understand the game now,” he said.
"I asked them to start hand-balling and they didn't ask any questions, which shows we are getting somewhere.
"We just want them to come and have a go and try the sport out.”
Brisbane Lions players Josh Walker and Ely Smith recently visited Gayndah as part of AFL's 2019 Community Camp.
And one lucky student walked away with two autographs on a jersey his Mum found at a Lifeline.