2019 RMIT Senior Best & Fairest winner Neve O’Connor will take the next step with her football this season after securing a place on Collingwood’s VFL Women’s list.
O’Connor was a powerhouse defender in the Redbacks’ first season at VAFA. Her judgment of the incoming ball, strong contested marking and line-breaking rebound by foot saw her net an impressive 14 votes in the Premier C Best & Fairest across just nine matches. She was rewarded with a place in the Premier C Team of the Year.
“I’m just stoked,” says O’Connor.
“It’s great to be able to take the next step with my footy at Collingwood. We’re well into training for pre-season and I can’t wait to get started and see how I can be a part of the team this year.”
The 20-year old was appointed co-captain of the Redbacks ahead of the lost season of 2020 and was instrumental in maintaining the bonds of the teammates in the months of lockdown.
“We’ve made a great culture and a great team at RMIT and last year we held that together really well even though we could have drifted apart,” she says. “It’s sad that I’ll be apart from the Redbacks this year but I’ll be checking in and around to see how we develop this season.”
Academy President Sally Tanner has praised O’Connor’s leadership, footballing ability and determination, declaring “this day was always coming”.
“Neve grasped a unique opportunity. While leading a new club in a few grades below her capability may have put some off, it didn’t faze our general in defence. She utilised our medical team and health clinic to its maximum to iron out some long-term injuries and went about building a complete fitness base. Under the tutelage of our Director of High Performance, Vince Atkinson, Neve committed to a strengthening and conditioning program that has her primed for a tilt at VFL level.
“She also engaged in one-on-one personal training through RMIT’s Exercise Science program to ensure continued improvement throughout the 2020 lockdown. Her discipline and commitment have provided outstanding leadership to other aspiring players in the club. Mentored throughout 2020 by Academy specialist coach Sarah Perkins, Neve has continually improved and has absolutely earnt this opportunity. We wish Neve the very best representing Collingwood and look forward to cheering her on in the next stage of her football journey.”