Nicola Kirwan selected for CrossCoders international rookie camp

Etobicoke Kangaroo Nicola Kirwan will represent Canada at the first ever AFL Women’s international rookie camp in Melbourne, Australia, from September 22-30.

Nicola will join 17 other women from England, Fiji, France, Ireland, the United States and Wales all seeking rookie spots on a professional Australian rules football team list.

Nine of the 10 AFL Women’s clubs will be represented at the camp, each carefully looking at the international talent on display.

Nicola first played Australian rules football in 2015, debuting with Etobicoke after transitioning from Gaelic football.

She won AFL Ontario’s league best and fairest in 2016 and 2017 and was the league’s leading goalkicker in 2017 and 2018. She also represented Canada at the 2017 International Cup and was one of five Canadians to make the World Team.

Nicola was encouraged by her coach to apply as soon as the press release was announced.

“At first I thought I would not have a chance as it was a global application process. However, I had to give myself a chance and I submitted an application form expecting never to hear anything back,” she said.

“I am absolutely thrilled to have this amazing opportunity. My teammates at Etobicoke Kangaroos have been incredibly supportive and encouraging.

“I know hundreds of female athletes would do anything to be in my position right now. I can’t wait to get over there and soak in every second of this experience.”

The camp is a part of the wider CrossCoders program, the brainchild of AFL Women’s premiership coach Paul Groves, AFL Women’s player Lauren Spark, AFL England president Jason Hill, and serial entrepreneur Jonathan Jeffries.

“We are so excited that in such a short period of time we’ve been able to attract such a highly talented list of amazing women. It’s amazing to see such a diverse spread from the up and coming superstar to the experienced performer, from the USA to Fiji,” Jason said.

“We had an overwhelming level of interest and we’re so excited to be working with all AFL Women’s teams to identify talent and help these genuine superstars transition into the game we love.

“Speaking with the AFL Women’s clubs, there is such intrigue into how International sports can transition into the sport and what skills can be adapted to give the clubs a competitive advantage in the 2019 season. I know I certainly cannot wait to see how this group performs.”

Mr Hill said he was impressed with the Canadian submissions with some players unlucky not to make the cut.

“The main thing that stood out about the Canadian applications in general was their stationary skill ability,” he said.

“It was impressive to see how strong they equally were on both their dominant and non-dominant feet and hands. 

“But Nicola’s strength was her marking presence and kicking accuracy. She was strong off both feet and both hands and could take the ball overhead.

“One, if not the strongest, AFL background player we had come through the application phase.”


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