FORMER PORT ADELAIDE defender Nigel Fiegert is confident the club will be playing in the AFLW sooner rather than later, and he has extra reason to take an interest with his daughter Marlie currently coming through the club’s Next Generation Academy program.
Fiegert – who played in three premierships during his 168 SANFL games and 19 AFL games for the club between 1996 and 2004 – is well across women’s football in South Australia through his involvement with the Henley Sharks, where Marlie and his eldest daughter Tamsyn play their club footy.
The former rugged defender is proud to see Marlie running around at Alberton Oval as part of the NGA set-up.
“The pathways being established are fantastic for the girls and it’s come along really quickly,” Nigel Fiegert told portadelaidefc.com.au after a visit to the club.
“Eventually Port Adelaide will get (an AFLW) side.
“I know a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to prepare and I hope that the club can get a team in.
“It took a long time to get the men’s side into the AFL and it seems the same with the women’s but it’ll be fantastic when it happens.”
Marlie Fiegert is playing in the SANFLW with the Eagles, making her senior debut in 2021, as well as school footy with St Michael’s College.
In her second season in the Port Adelaide Female Under 16 NGA set-up, she is thriving in a midfield role.
“She’s nothing like her dad, thank god,” Nigel Fiegert said, beaming with pride.
“I worked pretty hard as a young kid. I lived and breathed for footy as a young kid on the farm, I’d be running all the time.
“She works really hard and she loves playing footy with her friends which is important. She can take it really seriously but she’s also not too hard herself if she has a bad game.
“I was very proud when Marlie got selected (for the NGA). We’ve got three children and she’s our second.
“They can come out here and see how serious they have to be to make it and they can also go back to the SANFL or back to Henley where she really enjoys playing footy with her friends and her sister.”
Like her dad in his childhood, Marlie Fiegert’s life revolves around footy at the moment.
She has aspirations of getting a crack at AFLW level but is level-headed about the chances.
“It’s very big on my radar,” the 15-year-old told portadelaidefc.com.au.
“Every night is basically footy for me, I’ve always got training and I watch it all the time.
“Playing for the Eagles in the SANFL, being here in the NGA, I also play school footy and club footy for Henley Sharks so it’s a major part in my life at the moment and the opportunities are good for the girls.”
The weekly NGA sessions, led by coach Naomi Maidment have helped Marlie and her teammates with the professionalism required to play at the highest level.
As well as skills training, there have been sessions around mindset, nutrition, preparation and recovery using some of the high-performance staff at the club.
It has Marlie inching closer to her AFL dream and potentially at Port Adelaide where her father made his name.
“It will be fun and something I strive for, but I know that if I don’t make it, it’ll be okay because there are still plenty of other footy opportunities these days that I can participate in,” she explained matter-of-factly.
“It would mean a lot to play here where dad did, (although) he doesn’t talk about (his career) that much. I don’t really know much about what he did.”
The AFL is expected to announce soon whether the AFLW competition will be expanded to include teams including Port Adelaide and Nigel will be watching closely.
Marlie will be eligible to be drafted in 2023, the season that Port Adelaide could make its entrance.
“I’d certainly encourage her if she could get drafted by Port Adelaide. I never push my kids, but I do encourage them,” he said.
“It would be a really proud moment but there’s a lot of water to go under the bridge just yet.”