Behind the scenes at the Girls Institute Challenge with Osler TjuandraEach year, the FFV National Training Centre teams have a competition, pitting the best girls of Victoria, against the rest of the state institutes. This year, that date fell on the 26th of August until the 30th, at the Australian Institute of Sport campus in Canberra. Tuesday 27th The girls arrived at Canberra on the Monday 26th, while I only joined up with the girls the next day. The first day of the competition was merely for the girls to get used to the environment, as well as a light training drills to re-activate muscles and football movements following the day of travel. I arrived early Tuesday morning and, went straight to business; strapping ankles, knees as well as massaging some of the girls to prepare for their first match against Queensland. The mood in the change room was one of nervousness, as for most of the girls; this was their first time in the competition. Sure enough, it was a slow start for the team and we conceded an early goal. The girls did not back down however, and in the 2nd half were attacking more. Unfortunately, they were unable to find the back of the net and had to settle a 1 -0 loss. It was straight into recovery mode “Recovery and Re-activation”, consisting of cool down stretches, as well as contrast baths and foam roller sessions for the girls. This was needed as they had another game later in the afternoon. This combined with the intensity of their game play, means we need to look after their physical and mental condition as effectively and efficiently as we can, so that they can continue to give their best at each game. Luckily for the girls, after all the recovery session was done, they had one hour to finally stop and rest. This is important because it allows the body to heal. Not long after, there was more work to do, as we had to re-strap and give some of the players more hands-on work. The second game was against ACTAS. This time, the girls went out with more confidence, dominating possession throughout. They were unfortunately unable to convert possession into goals, seemingly unable to break through the ACTAS’ defence line. As often happens in this game, a quick counter attack by the opposition resulted in another 1-0 loss for the team. Additionally, the team had their first injury, a potential partial ACL. It was another disappointing result, but the girls got through the recovery session, making sure that they will be ready for the next match. Wednesday 28th It was an early start for the VIC girls on Wednesday, thanks to a scheduled early match. Luckily the team did not pick up any more injuries, barring for muscular aches. The first game was against Northern New South Wales, traditionally one of the stronger teams. It was an even game throughout, with both teams threatening to score. The goalkeeper reported of some wrist pain during half time. Luckily, she was strapped securely and was deemed able to continue playing. Unfortunately, another quick counter attack resulted in a 1-0 loss again. The team was starting to get a little frustrated with the results, but some good talks from the coach seemed to reassure the team. More recovery was scheduled to ensure the team is 100% for the next game against South Australia. While one might expect the girls to be deflated, it was to the contrary. The girls were fighting tooth and nail to get their first win, ensuring the South Australian midfield is subdued. The result ended nil all however, and the team suffered another setback, with another injury, this time a potentially serious ankle injury. Thursday 29th The girls were able to get a longer sleep, as they had a later match, any amount of rest is very much welcomed at this stage of the tournament. More good news for the girls, when they found out that the game times has been reduced. The girls were reminded that less game time means they have less time to score, and the coach asked them to maintain their concentration. The first match for the day was against Football West. It was another game we dominated, and the girls seized on their momentum and scored their first goal. The girls did not let off, and scored another goal; thanks to a never give up attitude and slick play. We ended the match 2-1 and the girls were ecstatic. There was no time to celebrate however, as the girls needed to get onto their recovery/re-activation session. The win was marred by an injury to another girl, a potential toe fracture after being stepped on. The second match of the day was against New South Wales, a traditionally strong team. With the win earlier, though, morale was high. From the start, the girls were playing more cautiously than their previous games, attempting to catch the opposition on the break. Under pressure, the girls did well, with a few attempts at goals. Unfortunately, they were unable to beat NSW, losing the game 1-0. Friday 30th On the last day of the competition, the girls were looking forward to ensure they leave the competition with a bang. And that was exactly what they did. A 6-1 win against TAS/NT capped off what has been a physically challenging week for the girls. Well done Vic girls!