GIRL POWER: Gol Gol’s Rachelle Poustie on the move in a warm-up drill at a women’s football clinic with Richmond’s AFL women’s program staff. Photos: PAUL MENSCH

RICHMOND Football Club’s home away from home received a visit from members of their club this week.

Tigers CEO Brendon Gale led a strong club turnout for multiple activities across Sunraysia on Wednesday. Chief among these items was the announcement of Aligned Leisure, a fully owned subsidiary of the Richmond Football Club, expanding its health, fitness and leisure business into Mildura.

Also on the agenda was scouting at an Under 15’s football carnival, which featured round-robin matches between academies from Sunraysia, Bendigo, Central Victoria and the Goulburn Valley at Dareton.

Richmond’s AFL Women’s program members also took on a female football talent search, putting local females from ages 14 upwards through skill drills and game simulation. The local girls were put through their paces at the hands of VFLW coach Tom Hunter, women’s football operations manager Kate Sheahan and Wentworth product and current Richmond player Courtney Wakefield. Talent scouts were also casting an eye over the women’s training. Richmond will enter the AFLW in 2020.

Brendon Gale said Wednesday was “a busy day” but that the club always enjoyed coming to Mildura.

“At the end of the day, nothing resonates better in regional areas than club brands,” he said. “The Next Generation Academy structure was put in place to recognise that. This is our zone, we pretty much have Mildura all the way down to Wodonga. It’s a huge zone but a great opportunity. It’s great to get out and develop and nurture footy generally. Particularly for the women’s footballers and multicultural athletes, both boys and girls.

“I think for girls in particular it’s good for them to be able to see women, for example Courtney Wakefield, who’s a bit of a local star, to see Kate Sheahan… I think once you see that you see pathways and get some extra tuition.

“While it’s a huge responsibility in terms of our graphic zone, we also think it’s a huge opportunity for the club. There’s an incentive for us to put a lot of time, money and effort into it. When it comes to women and multicultural talent, you can reap what you sow a little bit. Young Derek Smith has been rookied, we’re really happy with his progress. And I think we’re just scratching the surface.”

Aligned Leisure CEO Shane Dunne said Sunraysia is a really important area for the club. Mildura Rural City Council (MRCC) announced that Aligned Leisure will commence management of eight leisure facilities in Mildura from November 1 this year. This includes the Mildura Waves Aquatic and Leisure Centre, and swimming pools in Colignan, Irymple, Merbein, Murrayville, Ouyen, Red Cliffs and Underbool.

“What we’re really excited about is the opportunity to be able to deliver programs not just here in the city of Mildura, but also right throughout the region,” Dunne said.

“We’ll be delivering programs into schools, creating employment opportunities, training opportunities. Initially we really just want to work with existing staff teams make sure they’re comfortable during this transition process so we can get as many of them jobs as we can.

“We’ll be bringing our ‘Tiger Paw’ program into schools, which is about using the brand and the power of the AFL and the club to deliver important community health messages to those kids, such as healthy eating, physical activity, mindfulness and resilience, really important things. We’re looking at some of those outdoor pools and how we can get more activity going through those.”