GIRL POWER: Sunraysia export and VFLW footballer Elise Strachan, centre, was a special guest at Bendigo Pioneers girls talent search in Mildura. Elise is pictured with potential recruits Sarah Watson, 15, and Rhiannon Garner, 17.

By Mitch Rodd

AFTER getting a taste of AFLW action this season, Elise Strachan is hungry for a permanent position in the top echelon of women’s football.

The 26-year-old Sunraysia export was called into Melbourne’s AFLW squad late in the season from Bendigo Thunder and made her debut against Adelaide at Darwin’s TIO Stadium.

The midfielder was not selected in the AFLW draft and admits she felt the wave of emotions through the inaugural AFLW season.

“After not getting drafted I went through the highs and lows, especially watching from the sidelines,” Elise said.

“Next thing you know you’re in the changing rooms with Daisy Pearce and Mel Hickey and you’re running out with an AFL guernsey on up in Darwin which was pretty surreal.

“It was an opportunity that came up and it was exciting.

“Mel and I had completely different paths to the AFLW, but it’s funny how two girls from the country ended up at the same club. It was great to have that in common with someone who is a huge name in the competition.”

Elise and Carlton AFLW forward Hayley Trevean were involved with a Bendigo Pioneers talent search in Mildura on Monday for local girls aged 14 to 17.

Pioneers talent manager Steve Sharp was on the look out for girls who could potentially join the TAC Cup club’s youth girls academy.

After the solitary AFLW game and not being retained for the 2018 season, Elise had to find new opportunities to get noticed by clubs.

The on-baller joined Geelong in their first season in the VFLW competition. The Cats  have won three out of seven games to start 2017.

Elise has been the star having been in the team’s best players in five matches.

The Cats women’s side share Simmonds Stadium with their AFL counterparts, and are ready to launch an official bid to enter an AFLW team at the next intake in 2019.

While Elise said her focus is predominantly with Geelong, she wanted to return to the AFLW.

“At the back of your mind the end goal of getting on another list come draft time in October is there so you have to play well for that to happen,” she said.

“Hayley and I both live in Bendigo and travel down a couple of times a week to Geelong, and that season is going really well.

“Geelong are ready to go with an AFLW team licence and hopefully they get one for the 2019 season.

“We get to use the same facilities at Simmonds Stadium as the men, we walk through the corridors with Patrick Dangerfield and Joel Selwood which is a pretty surreal experience.”

As a show of dedication to making it at the next level, Elise has taken 12 months leave from teaching, working now as a relief teacher, to juggle the constant travel to ‘Sleepy Hollow’.

“These opportunities don’t come around all the time so you may as well put all your effort into it and see how far it could take you,” she said.

We’re backing her to be back in the AFLW in 2018.