Taylors Lakes wilkommen German recruits

Hatice Bozkurt, Paola Richter and Alina Bernhardt. (Anthony Villani)

Oliver Lees

They say football is a game of connection where people of all backgrounds can unite behind a common goal.

But it’s rare that those features are as clearly on display as they were on March 17, when Taylors Lakes’ inaugural senior women’s side welcomed three German backpackers to try out the sport for the first time in a pre-season hit out against Keilor Park.

Paola Richter, Alina Bernhardt and Hatice Bozkurt were introduced to the sport by Lions coach Joe Antonetti.

Antonetti had been renting out a property to the three women who are based in Australia temporarily on work and travel visas.

After inviting them to practice, Antonetti said he had no qualms about giving the trio the authentic Australian experience of playing their first proper match.

“The group really embraced them, it didn’t matter that they had no experience, we were just glad to have them,” he said.

“They’re still learning the rules… [but] they didn’t want to miss the opportunity to play a sport on the other side of the world.

“I wasn’t the most skilled player, so I understand the value of being taught the basics.”

Given her natural height, Richter was thrust into the guts as a backup ruck late in the match while Richter and Bozkurt were given game time mostly in flank and wing positions.

For their part Richter, Bernhardt and Bozkurt had their hands full coming to terms with the complexities of the game.

Each of them confessed they struggled particularly with one aspect of the game: handballing.

Nonetheless, Richter said it was an unforgettable experience.

“It was fun [and[ a bit scary,” she said. “The team is great, we didn’t feel like we had only been there for a short moment.

“They gave us a good feeling.”

But as enjoyable as it was, their footballing career is destined to be short lived.

They’ll all be returning to Europe in April, meaning they’ll miss the Lions’ historic first regular season matchup against the Sunbury Kangaroos on April 13.

Antonetti said he believes his side was showing positive signs

“It’s the aim of every club to have a senior women’s team and this year we bit the bullet and made the decision,” he said.

“There’s a core group of girls who have been involved in junior teams for a few years at the club.

“The intent was really good [in pre-season], the girls have a great bond among themselves.”