By Russell Bennett
The new era of women’s footy at the Garfield Football Club will have a distinctly family feel, with a father, mother, daughter and son combination jumping on at the ground floor.
Nar Nar Goon North’s Leek family, known throughout the local community, can’t wait to get stuck in – dad John as coach, daughter Zoe as a player, mum Andrea as a trainer, and son Mitch as a runner and water carrier.
But the involvement may not stop there – with Andrea, a former Grand National hurdles-winning jockey aboard ‘Team Heritage’ – training during pre-season with an aim to also play as part of the inaugural Garfield women’s team.
For John, a horse trainer who trained Team Heritage to its 2004 win, this coaching move marks an official return to the game he loves.
The family has supported Mitch throughout his footy journey – including to Kooweerup, where he still plays for the Demons.
John coached Mitch to a junior premiership in his only other stint as a footy coach, and while there’s the chance lightning could strike twice in 2018 with Zoe, he’s more looking forward to having fun with a committed group of people keen to push themselves.
“Zoe has trained for the past few years and gone for a run every morning or gone to the gym as well, so she’s a bit of a fitness fanatic,” John said.
“I told her there was a Garfield side starting up and she should get involved for some more fitness and a bit of fun. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d get the call up to coach.”
John was originally reluctant to throw his hat in the ring as coach, but now he has the gig he’s looking forward to Zoe and Andrea playing side by side.
“If you’ve got that love of sport flowing through your blood, this is something you’ll want to be involved in,” he said.
“This is about fun, first and foremost, otherwise she (Andrea) wouldn’t put her hand up to play.”
Garfield’s women’s side is still on the hunt for more players to join its ranks. For more information call John Leek on 0409 537 445, or club president Michael McMahon on 0414 666 715.