Schools join forces for girls carnival

Rocky road to glory: Rochester and Lockington primary school footballers joined forces to contest the Campaspe girls Aussie Rules carnival at Moama last week. They became known as “Rocky’’ for the day and had their eyes firmly fixed on the cup, eventually finishing third. From left is Evie Coghill and Logan Sparkes from Rochester primary and Lockington’s Taya Tamblyn and Lily Dunham.
Plaits and palm: Lockington primary’s Taya Tamblyn wins a hit out for the combined team with Rochester primary that finished third in the girls football carnival at Moama last week.
Time to celebrate: Alantra Brown (right) high fives teammates Trinity Hayler (14) and Lily Dunham (5) after kicking a goal in her team’s domination of Kyabram in the preliminary rounds of the carnival.
Eyes wide open: Trinity Hayler is about to send the ball in the direction of her teammates, after winning a centre bounce clearance.
Snap chat: Jordi Howe is about to snap toward goal in the Campaspe carnival which attracted 11 primary schools to Moama last week. She is under pressure from Tayla Starling.

Almost a decade ago a determined Echuca primary schooler named Annabel Johnson was named the player of the carnival at the closing ceremony of the inaugural Campaspe Primary Schools Girls Football Carnival.

The now 21-year-old has since become an important member of the Geelong Cats AFLW team’s mid-field, averaging almost 15 disposals, five tackles and three marks a game during 2021.

The 21-year-old kicked five goals during the season after being selected at number 15 in the AFLW Draft of 2020.

Johnson’s achievements remain a talking point among organisers of the Campaspe primary school event, which attracted 11 teams to Jack Eddy Oval last week.

Girls involved in the tournament last week will no doubt have heightened interest in the launch of the 2022 AFLW season, which for the first time will include all 18 clubs.

Rob Morris, the energetic figure behind the co-ordination of Campaspe primary's sporting calendar, said COVID’s impact on recent years had meant involvement had dropped to five or six schools.

“This year is a fantastic promotion for girls footy and a credit to the staff and schools that organised the teams,” he said.

“There were 200 girls involved in the carnival this year.”

Echuca Primary School was the winner of the tournament, beating St Mary’s Echuca in the grand final.

Echuca will now represent the Campaspe district at the Swan Hill regional finals on August 2.

A combined team from Rochester and Lockington primary schools finished third in the carnival, with St Augustine’s College, Tongala primary and Kyabram P-12 College in the second half of the field.

“We had great support from St Joseph’s College, which supplied the umpires, from Vince Jessen (first aid) and the Goulburn Murray’s AFL Development Officer, Jeje,” Mr Morris said.