A KNEE INJURY means Brad Ebert can’t do much on field to help his side reach the AFL finals, but it hasn’t stopped him teaming up with a Port Adelaide great to give a group of female footballers a boost as they aim to make the finals for the first time.
Ebert was on hand at West Lakes Shore on Wednesday night to help run training for the SMOSH West Lakes SAAFL Club women’s Division 1 team, coached by none other than the legendary Greg Phillips.
Phillips – a club captain, best and fairest and eight-time premiership player with Port Adelaide who played with Ebert’s father and uncle – took on the coaching gig at the start of this year as SMOSH announced it was fielding a women’s team in the top division for the first time.
Third on the ladder with three games left of the regular season, Phillips’ side is on the cusp of a maiden finals campaign in its inaugural year, a feat even he thought unlikely at the start of the season.
“It’s been a bit of a long road with girls coming in from all over but they’ve been really keen and there’s been good attendance,” Phillips told portadelaidefc.com.au.
“It’s been an eye opener for me given some of the girls came out with limited skill levels and experience but each month they’ve just improved.
“Some of them had never played the game before but the main thing is that they love the game now and love being out there.
“We’ve got a good, balanced, team and for us being in the competition for the first time it’s exciting to be on the verge of finals.”
Ebert had the team listening intently as he introduced himself and explained the PCL injury which currently has him sidelined.
The 29-year-old said he hoped his attendance at training would help SMOSH go deep in the finals and his advice was simply for the players to enjoy themselves.
“In the position they are at, they are sitting third, they don’t want to get too far ahead of themselves so it’s important for them to stay in the weekly moment,” Ebert said.
“I’ve known Greg forever, so it’s awesome to be able to come out and help him out.”
For Phillips, Ebert’s presence was definitely a boost.
“We’ve probably got half Crows (supporting players) and half Port Adelaide so there’s always a bit of banter,” he explained.
“But it’s good for the girls to meet someone who has actually played the game and they listened to everything he said with open ears.
“Whether it’s a woman or man at the top level they’ve got advice to offer so it’s great of Brad to come out and give us a boost leading in to the end of the season.”
Phillips’s daughter Erin Phillips, who is a two-time AFLW best and fairest winner, is a former SMOSH junior while his eldest daughter Rachel Porter, has three daughters of her own currently playing in the club’s juniors.
It’s given Greg Phillips a new perspective of footy – wanting to win but changing the way he goes about it.
“There’s definitely no swearing and raising my voice,” he joked.
“I do get a bit aggressive at times, but I understand the level we’re at and the girls are willing to learn so with great support at the club and some good juniors coming through, everything is in place to keep growing.
“I reckon I’ve got three or four at age 15 who will play AFLW and it’s great that they now have that competition to aim for.”