Lions have made tremendous strides in developing their women’s agenda in recent years. The club is also nurturing future talent with its Lions Cub, Mini Roos and Junior Girls programs, all of which show healthy numbers in 2021.
Preston has 84 women at the club on Lion Cubs (4-6s), Under 7s, Under 9s, Under 13s, Under 14s, Reserves and Senior Women teams.
That’s a healthy number the club relies on every year. The ultimate goal is to develop a girls’ path to the senior women’s team, which they hope will compete at the highest level of Victorian football starting next year.
Preston started well until 2021, having progressed to the fourth round of the Nike Cup, and currently sits fifth after the third round of the VPLW (second tier), with one match underway.
Young forward Hailee Mesiti, a crucial part of the senior women’s squad, admits she is proud to be part of a club that has a genuine concern for women’s football.
“It’s a growing club that really cares about the development of its players,” she said. “They try to invest in the women’s program as much as they can and overall we have the best group of girls.
“Their passion for the game and how they strive to be better in the future is inspiring.
“They have goals for the whole club and want to do their best.
“It was amazing to see the development and the rotation of the club compared to a few years ago where there was no structure.”
Mesiti believes the current group is motivated by building a legacy for the girls and women currently at the club and those who will join in the future.
“We want to create a professional, fun and loving environment where we want to produce the best from each player. We want to prove why we deserve better in the football world. “
Her feelings are echoed by defender Monica Fonua, who joined the team this year with her two sisters, Christine and Lisa. Fonua admits she enjoys life at BT Connor Reserve, especially the club’s strong culture in its women’s program.
“The team is a great environment, really fun and good jokes,” she said. “The coaches are also great, great football players, but they let us play and have fun with it.
“The morale of the team is also excellent. We all get along, I mean everyone. The reserves and the elders are very integrated and it is so much fun to be part of a group that gets along so well.
Fonua admits his team has a clear goal of securing promotion to NPLW next year, with the top two VPLW teams set to step up for 2022.
“I think we really want to be promoted this season so that we can give our juniors a path to elite football in Victoria. I think this group can really create that legacy. “
Women are so invested in their club that a number coach juniors at the club, with a few also volunteering at the club, including on match days when they are not playing.
The Lionesses travel to Somers St this Friday night to take on the Melbourne Knights in the VPLW before hosting the NPLW Box Hill United outfit in the Nike Cup on Tuesday night at BT Connor Reserve.