NSW Surge – The Journey to the Legends Cup

In years to come when the Legends Football League has entrenched it’s self into the Australian sports vernacular people will talk about the first season that was played here. They will talk of the great players that graced the field in that inaugural season who helped pave the way for the many women who now enjoy the sport.

The team that everyone will remember most is the New South Wales Surge who this week will play in the Inaugural Legends Cup game against the Western Australia Angels. They will be remembered for topping the season table with three wins from their four games, scoring the most points in the league, conceding the least points in the league and having the individual leaders in rushing, receiving, tackles and sacks!

It has been a journey of learning, understanding, team building and cohesion. It all started back in June 2012 when eighty-six girls rocked up to All Phones arena in Homebush to try out for the NSW team. The group of hopeful athletes where put through their paces by LFL Commissioner Mitch Mortaza and several American All-Star players and coaches who were on hand to help sort out the potential players.

From there the selected squad went into training mode and started their LFL journey. Thursday 26th July 2012 went down in LFL Australia history as the day that New South Wales became the first team to receive its coveted name. The Surge was born! The name was chosen for the power and determination of the Ocean that each player will possess on the football field.

The NSW Surge set the pace early for other teams to follow as they got right into training on a regular basis. ‘Surge Sunday’ became the buzz word amongst the squad as they hit the training field. The girls showed real passion, excitement and energy as they learnt the ins and outs of the game of Gridiron.

November 2012 rolled around very quickly and at one training session the girls had good reason to have an extra bounce in their step when they were graced with the presence of three LA Temptation stars in Danielle Harvey, Monique Gaxiola and Australia’s own Chloe Butler. Watching these three athletes lead the way was a huge buzz for the girls and gave them a real insight into how the women of the LFL are expected to prepare for a season. Monique Gaxiola said at the time, “These girls are phenomenal. I didn’t know what to expect coming in. They definitely impressed me. They are strong and I respect them a lot.”

The next stepping stone came in March 2013 when LFL Australia had the final open tryouts to be part of the action. The current Surge squad along with many new athletes made up a large group of close to ninety girls who were put through three hours of intense physical exertion to see who had the necessary skills to compete at the highest level. Thirty-six athletes were named as the final NSW Surge squad and later that night they all attended the Australian LFL Launch Party in Sydney.

Over the next three months the Surge squad knuckled right down to business and became a group of determined athletes who quickly formed a close bond which provided team unity and a willingness to go into battle shoulder-to-shoulder. There would be no stopping the Surge. They were making every inch count. When you watch the one-on-one pass protection drills, proper technique is discussed and repeated over and over again to make sure it is right. The offensive pass and run blocking drills are done at full pace just like a game. And we were still six months away from the season kickoff!

The hardest part of the journey came in June 2013 when the NSW Surge held their mini camp. It was crunch time and places in the final team of 20 were up for grabs. It was a fact of life that not everyone would make that list yet the girls all had a healthy respect for one another as they battled it out over the three days. No stone was left unturned when it came to assessing the girl’s athletic abilities and understanding of the game. Coaches Jason Gaffey and Teren Tan had one hell of a job on their hands when it came to working out who would be there in December.

Once the final squad was announced it was back to the training field and video play book sessions for the girls as they honed there skills and understanding of every facet of the game. The learning curve was steep for many of the players yet they all put in 110% of their effort to be effective at reading all the plays as they were practised both on the field and in the classroom.

In the ensuing six month period before the season kicked off the NSW Surge worked tirelessly at making sure they would be ready for that first game against the Queensland Brigade. The chemistry was shining bright amongst the team with both players and coaches working as one. They all had the same desire to win a Championship. It was their time. They even took on a local men’s team in a game of flag scrimmage. The boys were a little shell shocked when the game started as the Surge was relentless in their every play. The hits were hard and the Surge learnt a lot from the game. Training then stepped up another level after that as the team hit the field each week with more passion and drive in their pursuit of perfection.

The Legends Football League officially landed in Australia on Saturday 7th December with the inaugural game between the NSW Surge and Queensland Brigade. History was made in front of a vocal crowd that consisted of families; young children and sports lovers alike who came to see the athleticism and dedication of these finally tuned athletes. They witnessed the culmination of 18 months of hard training sessions. It was time to put that all into action and the crowd would not be disappointed!

The Surge was relentless in both attack and defence. The hits could be heard high in the grandstand. It was one hell of a bruising encounter for the Brigade as they were bashed from pillar to post. The Surge was well prepared and that was evident on the scoreboard at fulltime when they ran away with the game 44-6. After almost two years in the planning it had all come together like clockwork.

Game two saw the team travel to Perth for the clash against the Western Australia Angels. It was a highly charged game full of tension and fireworks as the vocal crowd got stuck into the visiting team. Several uncharacteristic mishaps and miscues riddled the Surge offense in the first half and it made the task that little bit more challenging to get back on top. While it was a wake up call for the team they could still take several positive points away from the game after going down 20-18. They would not let this happen again. It hurt their pride and it was the shot it the arm they needed to get back on track.

A quick turn around was required as the Victoria Maidens arrived at the Surge home ground a week later on the back of a victory over the WA Angels in their first game of the season. They were confident of winning on the road. The only problem was that they were about to come up against a Surge team that had a point to prove. And that point was rammed home hard! The Surge put the foot on the accelerator and didn’t take it off until the final whistle. The game had everything; brutal defence, precision footwork and plenty of in your face aggression. The final whistle blew and the Surge won 36-12 in a game that was very one sided.

Two weeks later the Surge was in Melbourne to play the Maidens again. This time they were in enemy territory in front of 9000 screaming and cheering fans. It was an intimidating home stadium yet this did not phase the Surge. They were ready to rumble. The Maidens had done their homework in the last 2 weeks and were ready to put up a fight in front of their home fans. It was a tight game which saw the Surge win 14-0 and finish the season 3-1 and on top of the ladder. More importantly they were into the Legends Cup!

This Saturday night in Perth, Western Australia the New South Wales Surge will finally get to show that all the training and hard work has paid off. Their dreams of a Championship will become reality when they lift the Legends Cup.