Local makes AA squad

Outstanding: Traralgon and Gippsland Power's Ella Stoddart made All-Australian honours after the Under 16 AFL National Championships. Photograph supplied





A TRARALGON local has made a monumental stride in her footballing career, following the completion of the Under 16 AFL National Development Championships.

Ella Stoddart, 16, represented Victoria Country alongside fellow Gippsland Power products Rebecca Fitzpatrick, Abby Hobson and Addison Howe.

The girls were handpicked by the Victoria Country selection panel, which could be seen by some as impressive enough.

At the championships, the girls played two games during April, displaying their talents all in the attempted effort to get Victoria Country over the line.

In their first game, Victoria Country stepped up to face their Metro counterparts at Shepparton’s Deakin Reserve.

Country got the win in a thriller, defeating Metro by four points; 6.5 (41) to 4.13 (37).

Stoddart was named in Country’s best, something she had done for the second time that year, after a recognisable performance for Gippsland Power two weeks earlier against the Murray Bushrangers.

For their second game, the girls would take on Western Australia in a double-header at Arden Street Oval, before the Victoria Metro versus South Australia match.

Unfortunately, things didn’t go their way as they were drubbed by 60 points, ending their championship carnival.

But once again, the bright light to come from the defeat was Stoddart.

She kicked one of Victorian Country’s two goals in the loss, helping her argument to make the best again for Country.

Despite the up and down carnival results wise, Stoddart and the rest of the team could be proud of their efforts.

She was given recognition for her display when the Under 16 Girls All-Australian Team was released, after the championships.

Following her strong performances, Stoddart found herself named on the field in the Under 16 Girls AA, across half back.

She turned out to be one of two Country girls to make the team, as Stella Huxtable of the Geelong Falcons made the interchange.

“I think the growth is with confidence … as a person inside the program,” Gippsland Power Girls coach Nathan Boyd said.

“She continually gets stronger in terms of her power, she’s got a great left-foot kick, and her ability to read the game is continued to develop.”

Tremendously, on top of her All-Australian selection, Stoddart was also awarded as the Victoria Country Carnival MVP.

Boyd was extremely proud of Stoddart, from a coaching perspective.

“She’s a really great kid, she engages really well. So, you naturally have that good relationship with her,” Boyd said.

“Seeing her elevated to All-Australian is something I’m really proud of and I’m happy for her.”

Boyd is keen to see how Stoddart is able to progress over the next two years.

“We see her as a player, for the next two years, we’re going to invest pretty heavily in,” Boyd said.

“We’re all about continuing that process for the next two years and seeing where we can get her to.

“She could be a great talent, with that development path that she’s on – she’s doing really well, so I want to see that continue.”

Stoddart would have to be proud of herself – she won the Under 18’s Best and Fairest in a year that she turned 16-years-old, and apparently only played half of a season.

With this year, plus another two years of top-age football to play, it would be a fair estimate that she has more to come her way.

Boyd believes Stoddart will make a difference to the top-age side when she returns, as he looks forward to the remainder of the 2023 season.