CLASSY Essendon midfielder Georgia Nanscawen has added to her ever-growing list of accolades by being named captain of the rebel VFLW Team of the Year on Thursday night, while Collingwood's unbeaten campaign was rewarded with more representatives than any other club.
Cross-code star Nanscawen, 29, earned the honour after a brilliant season in which she won the Bombers' best finals player, leading her team to the preliminary final in their first VFLW finals appearance.
She has been joined in the leadership group by Magpies mentor Chloe McMillan, who couldn’t be overlooked for coach of the year after leading the Pies to an undefeated 16-0 season, with only COVID robbing her of the chance to be a premiership coach in her first year.
Ten of the VFLW's 12 clubs are represented in the 21-woman Team of the Year, which is restricted to players not on AFLW lists.
Collingwood was well represented with four players named – Rohenna Young Medal winning leading goalkicker Imogen Barnett, full-back Jasmine Ferguson, Caitlin Bunker and Matilda Zander, while fellow Grand Finalist Geelong was joined by North Melbourne and the Southern Saints with three in the team.
Nanscawen and Gold Coast Suns’ signing Alana Barba were the two Bombers picked, with Casey Demons also having two chosen, while Darebin, Carlton, Port Melbourne and Williamstown each had one and Hawthorn and the Western Bulldogs missed out.
Nanscawen was, in fact, the only player from the 2019 Team of the Year to retain their spot in the line-up.
It was a double honour for Essendon, with the Bombers' facilities and maintenance worker Mark Lanham rewarded for going above and beyond his call of duty to help the women’s team function seamlessly with the Ann Rulton Volunteer of the Year award.
One of 24 women to play more than 200 matches for Australia’s Hockeyroos (205 for 37 goals) after making her debut at just 16, Nanscawen only laced up her footy boots for the first time in 2017 and played two AFLW matches for North Melbourne in 2019 before joining the Bombers that season and winning the best-and-fairest in her first year.
This year she averaged 23.5 disposals and a whopping 10.5 tackles across 15 matches, showing she wasn’t averse to getting her hands dirty for the cause.
She was over the moon to have received the selectors' nod.
McMillan was chuffed to win the VFLW's best coach award, saying she was just someone who had grown to love coaching and was still learning on the job despite Collingwood's flawless season.
"I'm extremely humbled and honoured – there's so many really good coaches within the VFLW competition, so to be recognised is really nice, but I’m just super happy with the year we had and I couldn't ask for any more," she said.
"Over the past couple of years (I’ve been working on) the confidence of knowing what I'm saying is right, and the players are believing the messages and hopefully that has come across pretty well this year.
"I love game day, I love coaching and everything about it and you get to put your own flavour on it in all the little ways you can, so that's probably the most enjoyable part.
"Obviously it would have been nice to have a chance to play in the Grand Final but that's the world we're in at the moment and there's a lot bigger things going on rather than putting a football game on."
McMillan hoped her success would inspire other women who were interested in coaching and increasing the numbers of female coaches in the ranks.
"The game is only growing and opportunities for females are coming up everywhere, so anyone who is looking at getting involved in coaching, even if you think you're a player who just enjoys the game, coaching is just as good and sometimes even better, so I'd definitely recommend getting into it," she said.
REBEL VFLW TEAM OF THE YEAR
Victoria Blackwood (Dar) 13mt 11ds 2.1mk 3.8tk
Jasmine Ferguson (Col) 15mt 10.5ds 2.3mk
(no back pocket)
Molly Eastman (NM) 13mt 21ds 3.9mk 4tk
Lucy Burke (SS) 16mt 10.4ds 2.9mk
Alice Burke (SS) 11mt 20.8ds 2.9mk 6.5tk
Airlie Runnalls (NM) 12mt 18ds 5mk 4.1tk 2gl
Georgia Nanscawen (Ess, c) 15mt 23.5ds 10.5tk 1gl
Laura Gardiner (Gee) 13mt 21.3ds 2.5mk 8.3tk 4gl
Sophie Locke (PM) 12mt 9.3ds 4.2tk 13gl
Tara Bohanna (SS) 16mt 16.8ds 4.4mk 3.7tk 19gl
Alana Barba (Ess) 17mt 16.5ds 7.3tk 11gl
Imogen Milford (Cas) 15mt 9ds 4.3tk 19gl
Imogen Barnett (Col) 15mt 7.7ds 2.7mk 21gl
(no forward pocket)
Olivia Fuller (Gee) 16mt 10.1ds 3.9tk 16.2ho 2gl
Eliza West (Cas) 13mt 22.3ds 5tk 7gl
Megan Kiely (NM) 14mt 24.1ds 5.3mk 5.4tk 2gl
Aimee Whelan (Wil) 14mt 15.9ds 7.3tk 3gl
Claudia Gunjaca (Gee) 17mt 13.4ds 3.4mk 3.9tk 6gl
Caitlin Bunker (Col) 15mt 14.5ds 2.3mk 6.2tk 5gl
Jorja Borg (Car) 13mt 9.2ds 3.7tk
Matilda Zander (Col) 15mt 14ds 2.0mk 3.7tk 10gl