120 girls registered for VFLW club Hawthorn’s second ever talent identification day. They came from as far as Western Australia and even the U.S. to try their luck at catching the eye of Hawks recruiters.
Overseeing the day was Meg Hutchins, former Collingwood AFLW player, current VFLW premiership player for the Hawks and their new Head of Talent Identification and Recruitment for women’s football.
The latter is a role that she has taken on in the last month, meaning a swift turnaround to organise the event where the girls were put through their paces to test their general athletic and football capabilities.
Hutchins commented on the spread of players from diverse backgrounds, with some having played local footy while others had come from other sports with no football experience.
“Clearly, the want and desire to play football is high, particularly in the east [of Melbourne] which we’re really invested in,” she noted. “We’re looking for that perfect balance.”
Hutchins has had a big year herself - coming off a season with Collingwood in the AFLW, she made the permanent move to Hawthorn for the VFLW season and capped it off with her first ever premiership win.
“To be honest, it was just the cherry on top for me, of such an incredible year in terms of meeting new friends and being in a new environment, being coached by some amazing coaches, and supported by the Hawks. That was just sensational.”
She credits a couple of factors for her “informed decision” to move to the Hawks after leaving Collingwood, and is full of praise for current coach Patrick Hill.
“I had a couple of really good conversations with Paddy, and we had a lot of mutual respect for each other so I wanted to play under him,” she explains.
“The second reason was really just about the culture I’d already seen at the club. And a lot of my really good friends were playing at the Hawks from the Eastern Devils.
"Unfortunately, we [the Devils] didn’t have a VFLW licence this year so a lot of players came across to the Hawks, and to me, playing footy is all about enjoying yourself with your mates.”
And what’s next for Hutchins? While she’s got a lot on her plate with talent identification and recruitment for next season, she won’t be giving up on playing just yet.
“I’ve never had the challenge of trying to defend a premiership, so that’s really good for us as a club - and my mind is still willing and my body is still able.”
“The saying is that ‘you’re a long time retired’ so I’m more than capable of playing on. I’ll keep going until I break!”