Lindsay Park Public School have outlasted 11 teams from across NSW to take out the Paul Kelly Cup.
Playing on the hallowed turf of the Sydney Cricket Ground, the girls triumphed over Castle Hill Public School 38-8 in the final of Australia’s largest primary school AFL competition.
Coach Simon Irish said the result was the culmination of months of hard work for the girls, with the final day coming after a regional qualification period.
“We’re all just really proud of the girls,” Irish said. “All of their hard work at training has paid dividends. They’re a lovely bunch of girls to coach.”
A tournament traditionally dominated by schools from the AFL’s Riverina production line, the victory marks the first time a school from the Illawarra has taken out the competition.
The girls were fortunate enough to receive expert coaching from Greater Western Sydney AFLW hopeful Rylee McGartland throughout the competition.
The Wollongong Saint is a member of the GWS training squad and has been among the team’s standouts in their winter intra-club trials.
“As a school we value these achievements greatly,” Irish said. “We strongly encourage our students to participate in a wide range of extra-curricular activities that ultimately benefits our students, parents and the wider community.
“I’d like to thank all of our parents for their ongoing support and in particular Cindy Tracey, Rylee McGartland and Raquel Colquhoun for their expert coaching and unbridled enthusiasm.”
Paul Kelly was on hand to watch the kids compete in the competition and he was impressed by the quality on display.
“It’s been 21 years since the first Paul Kelly Cup competition kicked off here,” Kelly said.
“We had about 50 schools participating in a round-robin style competition. Back then it was just to give kids the opportunity to play the game.
“I would never have thought there was going to be 15,000 students involved like we have now. It’s a sign of how much the game has grown, especially here in Sydney.”
The Lindsay Park girls also had the opportunity to meet current Sydney Swans players Isaac Heeney, Heath Grundy, George Hewett and Harry Cunningham.