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Blues host Women's Academy

Danielle Balales, Carlton Media  November 18, 2015 12:12 PM

Carlton youngster Dylan Buckley with Women's Academy players Katie Loynes (left, Diamond Creek) and Stephanie Simpson (right, Darebin). (Photo: Carlton Media)

Carlton youngster Dylan Buckley with Women's Academy players Katie Loynes (left, Diamond Creek) and Stephanie Simpson (right, Darebin). (Photo: Carlton Media)

Ikon Park played host to football training on Tuesday night, but it wasn’t for the boys!

Just over 100 of Victoria’s best female footballers from the newly established AFL Victoria Women’s Academy were showing off their skills on Carlton’s hallowed turf.

After launching the Academy on Sunday 8 November, Tuesday night marked their first official training session.

The AFL Victoria Women's Academy warms up at Ikon Park's indoor facility. (Photo: Carlton Media)

Carlton, Melbourne, Essendon and the Bulldogs will rotate hosting the women’s training schedule across the Academy’s three-month pre-season.

With the AFL aiming to establish a women’s league from 2017, there’s an opportunity for clubs like Carlton to establish their own women’s team in the competition.

For Darebin player Stephanie Simpson, who was “born a Carlton supporter” and loves the game, it was a surreal experience to train on the oval where she had watched her Blue boys play so many times.

If Carlton is successful in gaining one of the AFL’s licences for a female team, Simpson says she would be honoured to don the navy blue jumper and play for the club she grew up barracking for.

“I think my dad would probably lose it,” she joked.

“I’d just love to play at the highest level possible and if that was for Carlton it would be a dream come true.”

While training at Ikon Park, the Women’s Academy players were joined by Carlton’s director of coaching Neil Craig and young players Dylan Buckley, Blaine Boekhorst and Sam Kerridge.

Blues youngster Blaine Boekhorst puts the girls through their paces. (Photo: Carlton Media)

“It’s great now that the senior women are getting such great coaches, Neil Craig is out here tonight and some of the Carlton boys are out here – it’s amazing,” Simpson said.

‘Bucks’, ‘Boeky’, Kerridge and ‘Craigy’ all participated in drills, with Buckley saying he was really impressed with the high standard of female players.

“They were giving me tips!” Buckley said.

“I’ve been running through a few smothering drills with the girls and I’m really impressed how high it (the standard) is.”

Like Stephanie Simpson, the young defender would love to see the Blues have their own women’s team.

“It would definitely grow the game and we’re all about that at Carlton, getting that sense of belonging at the Club, and I think with a women’s team that would be great for us.

“If you look at the numbers here tonight I think it (a women’s league) could definitely work.”

The Women’s Academy will return to Ikon Park on Tuesday 24 November for its next training session.