NFC Senior Women

Co-Captains to lead Norwood SANFLW in 2024

Stephanie Simmonds, left, and Sophie Armitstead will co-captain Norwood's Senior Women's squad in 2024.

Norwood has announced its co-captains for the 2024 SANFLW season, with Sophie Armitstead and Stephanie Simmonds to lead the Senior Women’s Squad.

Armitstead and Simmonds take over the reigns from the retired Alison Ferrall, who captained the side for the last four seasons.

The co-captains will be assisted by Sarah Branford, Jade Halfpenny and Emma Clark in the leadership group.

Lindsay Bigg will captain the Development League side, with Courtney Rossi and Jiarna Zerella rounding out the leadership positions.

Norwood SANFLW coach Brad Ferrall said co-captains was the best way to transition into the 2024 season.

“Simmo and Sophie really balance each other out well,” he said.

“They both have really good footy brains, and on top of that Simmo is great at hyping everyone up, while Sophie has a calming nature.

“We are in a great position where we have a lot of leant in our group, but when we leaned on our players and coaches to decide on our next leaders it became clear that these two are really highly rated amongst their peers. They were the two standouts.”

Armitstead has played 51 SANFLW Matches for Norwood since arriving at the club in 2019, and also has four AFLW games with the Crows on her resume.

She said it meant a lot to captain the Redlegs alongside Simmonds.

“Being captain of the Norwood Football Club is a huge honour and one of my greatest achievements so far,” Armitstead said.

“Norwood has a rich history with both the women’s and men’s programs, so I don’t take this position lightly.

“I have been in the vice captain position for a few years now, so to step up is an honour – to fill Ali’s shoes is a big job, but with Simmo by my side it will be great.”

Simmonds was also part of the leadership group in 2022, in just her second season at the club.

“It’s a great honour to be named co-captain,” Simmonds said.

“We have had a great captain previously in Ali (Ferrall), and for her to announce the captaincy to us was awesome.

“To share the role with Sop (Armitstead) is even better – I have looked up to her since I arrived at the club. We bounce off each other, and work with each other really well. I am confident that we will work well throughout the year.

“I am a bit more outspoken than Sop, and she gets me to calm down and see things from a different perspective.

“This football club has allowed me to be myself – I will be leading by example through my attitude, and trying to play the best football I can out there.”

The 2024 Senior Women’s Leadership Group. From Left: Emma Clark, Sarah Branford, Courtney Rossi, Sophie Armitstead, Lindsay Bigg, Stephanie Simmonds, Jiarna Zerella and Jade Halfpenny.

Both Armitstead and Simmonds said they were still learning a lot from the former captain, Alison Ferrall, who has now stepped into the role of the club’s Development League coach.

“Ali is big on care amongst the group, and that’s one aspect we will take into our leadership,” Armitstead said.

“It’s been a step up for us, but it has been a smooth transition into the leadership role as most of the girls in the squad have stayed from last year.

“There will be a lot more work involved but we are both up for the challenge.”

Armitstead said her experience was an important factor within a SANFLW club such as Norwood, which has a young playing list.

“There’s a lot of girls coming through at the age of 15-16 so they are looking for that leadership, and looking up to the older girls,” she said.

“With my experience I think I can help those girls with their football development, and also off-field and how we carry ourselves – not just how we play, but how we are seen by everyone else.”

Armitstead is still recovering from a knee injury which kept her out of the entire 2023 season, but hoped she wasn’t too far away from the action.

“I am only a few weeks away, hopefully Round 4 or 5 I will make my long-awaited return,” she said.

Norwood last Saturday completed its second SANFLW Trial Match ahead of Round 1 at The Parade on the 1st of March.

“The girls are buzzing,” Simmonds said.

“The first few hit-outs can be a bit daunting, but once you’re out there and amongst it the atmosphere within this group is amazing.

“We are pumped for Round 1, and this season ahead.”

Norwood’s Round 1 SANFLW match will take place at Coopers Stadium on Friday, March 1 against reigning premiers Central District.

By Josh Teakle, NFC