With local sport ready to recommence following the COVID-19 lockdown, Centurions Gridiron Club will look a little different this year in its quest for a third consecutive ACT Gridiron League title.
The club will field two women, Grace Murphy and Amy Van Lohuizen, in its men’s squad for season 2021-2022.
Centurions Gridiron Club’s women’s team, the Diamonds, had its Sydney-based competition called off this year due to COVID-19, but with Grace and Amy both still eager to train, they stayed with the club during its pre-season and, after holding their own at training, approached coach Josh Gargiulo with a proposition.
“They [Grace and Amy] were going really well and asked the question of whether they could make it in the men’s squad, and Josh agreed,” says club president Julang Mundine.
The ACT Gridiron League’s new season will kick off on 13 November.
“We’re incredibly excited to get going,” says Josh. “We did a lot of the pre-season before lockdown so we only get the three weeks coming out of lockdown before our first game so it’s a lot of shovelling as much information into people as we can and hoping it sticks.”
He describes Amy as a seasoned veteran who has played American football since 2016 and knows the game well, while Grace brings excitement with her athleticism.
“They’ll still have to go through all the same stuff as the blokes, and hopefully we’ll get them some good time on the field,” says Josh.
“They both have a unique understanding of the game; a perspective that women can bring to things that we, as blokes, don’t see all the time.
“We’re all used to having them around, and it’s now going to be when we turn up the physicality that they’re going to have to step up, and we’re going to have to treat them the same as everyone else on the field.”
While one might assume the extended break during preseason could unsettle the two-time defending champs, Josh is pretty quick to downplay that suggestion.
“Our expectation is the same as every year – we expect to win,” he says. “We made a conscious decision as a club around 2016-2017 that we were going to place a higher emphasis on preparing our players as if they are playing at a higher standard, and that’s led to some significant success for us during the past two seasons.
“I suspect it’s going to be the best season we’ve had in a long while and I’m really excited for it.”
For more information on American football in Canberra, visit ACT Gridiron on Facebook.