AJAX Senior Footy Club’s vice-president Alida Lipton described the club’s men’s and women’s players as “absolutely jumping out of their skins to play in this weekend’s season opener” after an extra long off-season, and a 2021 season cut short by lockdowns.
“After only 11 men’s games played in almost two years, and the women’s finals series cut short last year – due to COVID restrictions – everyone is certainly ready for, and hoping for, a full season of VAFA footy in 2022, and are raring to go after their recent practice matches,” she said.
“Especially keen are some of the club’s younger players, who have come up the ranks in our junior club’s U17 and U16 teams, and started training with the senior teams.
“Returning to footy is also important, more broadly, in lifting spirits – for our players and also our fans – after back-to-back disrupted seasons, because connecting through sport is a good way to boost mental and physical health, and a sense of community, which is the basis of what AJAX and Maccabi is about.”
In men’s footy, AJAX will field a squad in the 9-team, 18-round, VAFA Premier B competition, a development team and also a Sunday Thirds team.
The top grade round one match will see University Blacks host the Nick Lewis-led Jackas at Melbourne University Oval from 2pm on Saturday, April 2.
AJAX men’s head coach Adam Andrews told The AJN, “We played them in a recent practice match, and we know they had a really good season last year, and are always a very strong club, so it’s going to be a great challenge for us to tackle first up, and we’re looking forward to it.
“As I said to our guys, the score will always be 0-0 at the start of the game, so both teams begin on equal terms, and the rest is determined by how we play.”
AJAX had a tough introduction to Premier B footy in last year’s shortened season, posting 4 wins and 7 losses.
“I felt we were too inconsistent last season – while our best was very good, we had some poor games too – so as a group, we will be aiming for greater consistency of effort,” said Andrews.
“We also have some senior members of our squad not available to play in 2022, but on the positive side, that has opened the door for a group of younger players to step up.
“Players like Toby Sheezel, Benji Krongold and Toby Lipton have all now played 20 to 30 senior games for us, so they will have greater responsibility this season.
“There are also some talented teenagers from our junior club, like Brodie Mond, Maor Chrapot and Nick Pike, who are training with our men’s teams, and will probably play a few games for us this season.
“So, our personnel will be a bit different than last season, and I’m really keen for this playing group to create their own story this year.”
The club’s women’s team, the Jackettes, also have many fresh faces, and will start the 2022 VAFA season promoted to Division 2, after making last year’s Division 3 preliminary final, which ended up being cancelled.
Their division has 8 teams that will play a 14-round season, and the Jackettes will begin in round one by travelling to Canterbury Sports Ground this Saturday for a match starting at midday.
Jackettes coach Joe Nankin confirmed the team will have co-captains this season – last year’s captain Justine Gabriel and Jessica Marget, “who is a real Jackettes’ stalwart, who played in our very first game eight years ago”.
“We have a strong leadership group, and while its unfortunate that we’ve lost a few experienced players since last season, we’re lucky we’ve got some very good young players join us too,” he said.
“The pre-season was a bit disjointed due to some players coming in and out of isolation (due to COVID), but hopefully that will be behind us.
“And while our squad doesn’t have a lot of height, we do have a lot of speed, so that is definitely a strength, and a focus at training has been on fast movement of the footy.”
The team includes new recruits Romy Klooger, Romi Amira and Ariella Goldman.
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