South Warrnambool's Maggie Johnstone says she is ready to bring "encouragement and fierceness" in her newly-appointed role as GWV Rebels' under 16 captain in Saturday's season-opener against Geelong Falcons.
The Rebels' under 16 squad will play two matches in Geelong and Ballarat over the next fortnight, acting as curtain-raisers for the Coates Talent League's under 18 fixture.
Johnstone, 15, said she couldn't wipe the smile off her face when informed of her captaincy at Rebels training on Wednesday night.
"First they told me I was in big trouble, and I got a bit scared, and then they just said my leadership and the fact I get around the girls gave them a bit of an idea to give me the captain's role," Johnstone told The Standard.
During Rebels trial matches, the midfielder made an effort to get around both teams during breaks and to high-five teammates. It was this type of act that made Johnstone stand out to coaches.
"They said that was a really good thing to see from someone who used to be a bit shy and timid last pre-season to being a bit more confident," Johnstone said.
The Warrnambool College student, who won an under 18 premiership at South Warrnambool in 2022, believed her leadership had grown by putting her own belief into other people.
"If you believe in yourself and other people believe in you, you can do whatever you want," she said.
Johnstone, whose older sister Alyssa also plays football, said the past few months with the Rebels had been "pretty surreal" - beginning with the selection process to making the under 16 squad and now getting ready for their first game. "It's been a very good experience," Johnstone said. "I've really appreciated everyone that's helped out, all the satellite coaches who have come to Warrnambool to train us and our South coaches."
Johnstone will lead a team of 25 in their first game against Geelong Falcons on Saturday, with Roosters teammate Yezza Hawkins, Portland trio Maddison Cotten, Marnie Mueller and Chloe Reynolds, and Cavendish's Amelia Thomas all named in the side.
"They're doing really well," Johnstone said of her fellow south-west players. "I feel like knowing girls from your league... it just builds closer connections."
Johsntone said the entire playing group had "really connected" and were ready "to play their heart out".
"It will definitely help out on game day because we all know how each other plays after the trial games," she said. "We're all one, and I reckon we're ready to go. We're going to make the most of it."
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