Story written by Bond journalism student, Eliza Reilly
There is a fresh face down at the canal as newly appointed women’s AFL coach David Ashkar seeks to replicate his coaching success, this time for Bond, after turning down multiple other offers.
After falling agonisingly short of finals in 2016, the Bond University Football Club is set to contend for the ultimate prize this year in what will be only their third season competing in the Queensland Women’s Amateur Football Association (QWAFA).
Fresh from taking the Gold Coast Suns Under 16s academy to back-to-back state championships, Ashkar has similar aspirations for his new players.
“We want to finish in the top two or three,” he said.
After being cornered at a function by his niece, Bond journalism student Amelia Chapman, Mr Ashkar was pressured to make enquiries into the position.
However, he soon realised it was an opportunity he wanted to pursue.
“I had four or five state league clubs ring me wanting me to coach there but it was the same old spiel,” he said.
“When I met these young people, they were enthusiastic, they had all the resources behind them and women’s footy has taken off - it all just added up,” he said.
“Being in it at the start [women’s AFL] excites me, I’ve got something to offer.”
Following the departure of senior coach Gary Fox last season, AFL Club Coordinator Sam Schiphorst was forced to begin the process of appointing a new coach for the upcoming season.
“We had three or four people express interest in the role,” he said.
“We looked at their experience and what their vision was for the program and the future of the women’s team.”
The extensive coaching experience and attitude of candidate David Ashkar impressed Mr Schiphorst and resulted in his successful application for the role.
“He obviously has a great coaching record with the Queensland Under 16s and under 18s men’s sides which were really high roles to hold,” he said.
“He’s taken the Gold Coast Suns Under 16s academy to back-to-back state championships the past two years which is no easy feat,”
“But mainly his enthusiasm about building a good culture and building good people as good people will play good football is what appealed most.”
The women’s team has grown steadily since its inception which was initiated by a friend of Mr Schiphorst who approached him about starting a team.
“We went and met with AFL Queensland who really supported us through Richie Lyons and the Gold Coast office to get some coaching and develop the program,” he said.
“We had 15 to 20 girls who first registered. That rose to 25 to 30 and then this year we had 25 the first night on the track with about seven known apologies so that will hopefully rise to that 30 to 35 mark throughout the year.”
For anyone looking to join the team the process is simple.
“Just come down to training, every Monday and Thursday nights at the Bond AFL fields,” Mr Schiphorst said.
The Bullsharks will play their first game on April 1.