Three of the architects behind the Brisbane Lions AFLW premiership triumph joined key figures from Fitzroy’s women/girls programs for an exclusive online information session on Monday night.

Premiership coach Craig Starcevich, CEO Bree Brock, and All-Australian Defender and Grand Final best-on-ground Kate Lutkins offered their time and expertise to Fitzroy players, coaches and committee members who were thrilled with the opportunity to pick the brains of the AFLW’s finest.

With face-to-face engagement between the clubs being severely hampered since the beginning of the pandemic due to restrictions, it was a small way for the Club to provide some value for its Fitzroy friends.

Discussion flowed and a range of topics were covered – from the strategies used to keep players motivated during times of uncertainty, to potential talent pathways and recruiting philosophies.

Headed by Starcevich and Brock, the Lions have developed one of the strongest AFLW programs – testament to the fact that they’ve competed in three of the League’s first five Grand Finals.

Also in attendance at the online seminar were Fitzroy FC’s Coaching Director Phil Bunn and Football Director Sharon Torney, Fitzroy-ACU senior women’s Coach Bronte Ryan, Assistant Coach Mel Story, and Captain Cass Blake, Fitzroy Juniors Coaching Director Keli Symons, undefeated Youth Girls 1 Coach Brett Croft, among a dozen or so others.

The Brisbane Lions’ long-standing association with Fitzroy FC (VAFA) and the Fitzroy Junior Football Club obviously stems from the Club’s strong historic ties with Fitzroy.

The partnership is a critical component of the Brisbane Lions’ community engagement in Victoria.

And while the AFL has so far remarkably navigated its way through 21 (mostly rescheduled) rounds of football amidst the ever-changing COVID-19 landscape, unfortunately the same can’t be said for the many Australian Rules junior and grassroots programs – particularly throughout Victoria.

Three lockdowns in Melbourne over the past three months – the latest of which has just been extended until September – has already brought a premature end to some competitions and now threatens to derail others.

The journey of the Fitzroy-ACU senior women’s team in the VAFA Premier B Division, for instance, is just one familiar story among countless sporting clubs across the State.

It had been a long 623 days between matches for the Fitzroy women – from their final match of the 2019 season to their season opener against Old Geelong on 10 April earlier this year.

By Round 7, routines had well and truly been re-established and players and coaches might have been forgiven for thinking that perhaps the interruptions from 2020 were behind them.

Sadly, they weren’t.

Three Melbourne lockdowns later, and Fitzroy have managed just three further matches since 22 May, with officials now hoping that the campaign that started so promisingly can at least reach its conclusion.

The Club’s thoughts are with all our loyal band of members, supporters, and associated partners who are doing it tough in lockdown around the country.