Anna Pavlou – @Annalyst_Sports
Former Ireland representative and current Melbourne AFLW defender, Laura Duryea, made the trek down to Power House Amateur Football Club on Albert Park Lake yesterday, training and teaching a large group of enthusiastic females the fundamentals of women’s football.
Wearing the famous Jim Stynes number 11, Duryea focused her training on building basic skills necessary for protection, but also worked on building game-like intensity.
With four drill stations set up, more than 40 women had the opportunity to work closely with Duryea and Power House’s coaching team to improve their basic kicking, tackling and handballing skills, with match simulation activities included.
Power House inaugural player and pocket rocket, Becky Lou, praised Duryea for clarifying each step to perfecting each necessary skill.
“The way that she broke it down for someone who doesn’t really know the game, that was key,” Becky said.
When asked what she learnt from the session, Power House’s own Irish player, Anna Kennedy, identified game pressure.
“Definitely the tackles [were the best thing we learnt], learning how to get in [the pack] properly, coming in from each side.”
When asked to comment on the skills of the session, Duryea had nothing but praise for the willing women.
“There was a massive range of skills and it was great to give them those little pointers. You could see the improvement straight away,” Duryea said.
Duryea also gave some handy advice for the up-and-coming group of players.
“Work hard on those fundamentals and the basics. Buy a footy, have a footy, use it,”
“Have a balance and have fun. It shouldn’t be a chore, it should be something you’re enjoying, so keep that in mind,” she said.
Power House is a central location for Irish recruits in Melbourne, so it’s no surprise that Duryea fitted in with the culture and felt comfortable with all the players and coaching staff.
Furthermore, many of the women who will play for the ‘House’ in 2018 have arrived from the Pearces Gaelic Club, who also train on the Ross Gregory Oval and are eager to take up the more physical game of AFL this coming season.
Duryea, who previously represented Ireland in Gaelic football, commenced her Australian rules career with Melbourne University WFC before spending nine years with Diamond Creek.
After being drafted by the Demons in the inaugural AFLW season, Duryea earnt selection in the All-Australian squad following a standout year in defence.
Duryea, who is a primary school teacher away from the footy field, mentioned the important lessons from footy she uses to educate her class.
“I tell them ‘you know, we’ve got to be resilient’. I have big chats and tell them that it’s not all about winning or the glory and sometimes you don’t get picked so you’ve got to work harder.”
Further, she noted that it’s not just the young girls who look up to her, but also the young boys who respect her too.
“The girls are always going to look up to us, but the fact that the boys [in my class] do too, that’s something special.”