GWS Giants midfielder and former Leeton boy Jacob Hopper has praised Narrandera for its rapid growth in women’s football, and encouraged young players to aim for the professional level.
Hopper was a goal scorer when the Giants booted home a 14 point win over Richmond Tigers at Wagga Wagga on March 8.
The Giants were accurate in front of goal and eventu-ally held off the Tigers to win 17.7 (109) to 14.11 (95).
Hopper and fellow midfield, Jye Caldwell, of Bendigo, visited schools at Narrandera and Leeton on Monday, inspiring students to chase their dreams on and off the sporting field.
Hopper welcomed the formation of the Narrandera Eagles senior women’s side and the news Narrandera would host the women’s grand final.
“I have heard women’s football is very strong in this area and I’m not surprised to hear how well it’s going in these parts of the world,” he said. “There are a lot of talented girls coming through and trying to make it into the AFLW so it’s awesome to see.
“Hopefully they can come and play for the Giants team. (The growth of women’s football) is exciting for the whole of football. There are a lot of super talented women and girls playing footy – the more they can continue to progress and grow their games, it will continue to get better and better.
“They are already at a really good level so it’s great to see. I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing more girls coming out of this area and playing in the big smoke.”
Hopper was pleased to be back in familiar surroundings.
“It’s awesome. Obviously growing up in Leeton to have this morning in the town and now in Narrandera where I played a lot of footy, so it’s cool to see a lot of familiar faces,” he said. “I visited Leeton Public and St Francis de Sales College where I spent Year 7-10 – I was able to catch up with my teachers, and my parents work there as well.”
The 23-year-old, who also visited St Joseph’s Catholic School, said it was a great feeling to have so much local support at Sunday’s game.
“It was good to have that Riverina representation within the Giants and then to come back home and play some footy was a special experience for all of us Riverina boys to play in front of people we know.”
Hopper wanted to interact with as many school children as he could during the Riverina visit and “put smiles on faces”.
“I tell them to dream big and if I can inspire a few kids to chase their dreams, and have no limitations to do what they want to do, then that’s a pretty awesome thing to do,” he said.
Hopper conceded the pre-season training was always a “bit of a slog”.
“But, it’s good now to get to the end and see some home and away games, which will be exciting to play for some premiership points.”
In the 2020 SNSW Women’s competition, the Narrandera Eagles had the bye on Friday while Brookdale Bluebells 3.3 (21) lost to Griffith Swans on 5.4 (34). In other matches North Wagga Saints 4.14 (38) held East Wagga Kooringal Hawks scoreless.
This Sunday, the Eagles take on Charles Sturt University at Gumly Oval at 12.30pm, and the Brookdale Bluebells play East Wagga Kooringal Hawks at 2.40pm.