Leaders announced for Darley’s cup defence

Darley will be looking to go back-to-back this season. (Supplied)

Oliver Lees

Chloe Oughtred and Lilli Condon have been named as co-captains for Darley in the Ballarat Football League senior women’s competition, as it aims to defend last season’s premiership.

Both Oughtred and Condon featured in the Devils’ convincing grand final win against Redan.

Condon captained the team throughout the 2023 season in what was also a stellar season for her personally, ending in a three goal haul on grand final day.

Devils president Mark Shelly said it was an easy decision to retain Condon as skipper.

“Lilli’s leadership speaks for itself, she’s an exceptional leader on and off the field and in all aspects of the club,” he said.

He also highlighted the promotion of Oughtred from vice-captain to captain.

“It speaks volumes of the regard in which Chloe is held by the coaching group and also by her peers,” he said.

The Devils leadership group was selected through input provided from both players and the coaching staff.

Kim Bessel, Madalyn Clarke and Maddy Lister were also named as leaders for 2024.

Bessel had a dominant year playing as a forward for Darley last season, booting 122 goals across the season.

Taking into account finals games, Bessel averaged more than six goals per game.

Katelene Cook from Lake Wendouree and Jess Bokma were the second and third highest goal scorers slotting 73 and 51 goals respectively.

But Shelly said Bessel’s impact at the club goes beyond the scoreboard.

“It certainly gives the other players someone to look up to,” he said.

“It all helps our junior female footballers as well to have someone to aspire to be like.

“Kim’s a wonderful person in herself, and is thought of very highly not just in the women’s team but across the club.”

Shelly said connecting the junior and senior programs was a focus at the Devils.

Throughout the pre-season senior coach Brett Faulkhead has been spending time with under-14s and under-16s girls teams to develop their skills to give them a sense of what they might encounter should they continue football at the senior level.

The Devils will have 10 new players in the side this season.

Mia Williams Otutaham has returned and will play ruck after spending a season playing interstate.

“[Mia is] a really good in for us,” he said.

“Last season we didn’t have a designated ruck, there were two or three that went through that position.”

The Devils will play North Ballarat in a curtain raiser for the competition on Saturday, April 20, in what will be a particularly special occasion for the Roosters.

The round one fixture marks the club’s entrance into the senior women’s division.

Ballarat is anticipated to join the league in 2025.

Shelly said it was great to see women’s football growing.

“We’re always trying to increase exposure so we’ve advocated strongly to get some night games for the women,” he said.

“Our first game is against North Ballarat at Mars Stadium on Saturday night and we’ll have two or three night games throughout the year.”