AFL Canberra to honour O’Dea and Armstrong for College Cup
Wednesday the 5th of June will be a historic day for school football in the ACT with the inaugural presentation of the Elise O’Dea and Mark Armstrong Cups at Hughes Oval.
The College Girls Cup will be named after Belconnen Magpies trailblazer, Elise O’Dea, who now co-captains the Melbourne Demons AFLW side.
The College Boys Cup will be named after Queanbeyan Tigers legend, Mark Armstrong.
Luke Martin, Game Development Manager, AFL NSW/ACT said it was important to acknowledge Canberra football royalty and O’Dea and Armstrong were the obvious choices.
“Both are fantastic role models for our participants, not just through their football prowess but also through their leadership and passion for our game.”
“Elise is one of the biggest names to come out of Canberra football.
The way she plays the game and leads her team is something that all players should look up to and aspire to be.”
“Mark is also one of the great names in Canberra football, not just through his playing and coaching but also through his work in the school system.
Mark constantly puts his hand up to give advice and assist our Game Development team, playing a pivotal role in the growth of many staff members, as well a strengthening the connection between the ACT Schooling System and AFL NSW/ACT with a truly holistic approach to participation and finding a place on the field for everyone,” Luke Martin said.
“I am really humbled and honoured to have the cup named after me. I am really proud that my family’s name is associated with the competition and that teams will be fighting for it,” Elise O’Dea said.
Before moving to Melbourne, O’Dea had played seven consecutive seasons for the Belconnen Magpies and picked up the best-and-fairest award in the last four of those years.
Also on the 27-year-old’s impressive resume is All-Australian selection in 2011, ACT league best and fairest 2012 and a number of representative honours.
O’Dea moved to Melbourne after she finished university in 2013 to pursue her dream of playing at the top level.
“When people used to ask me what I was going to do when I grew up I would say ‘professional AFL player’ – most people would laugh and say ‘no really what do you want to do?’.”
O’Dea’s dreams became a reality 2016, when she was Melbourne’s first pick in the inaugural draft for the Australian Football Women’s League. In 2018 she was the Runner Up Best and Fairest for the side and was announced as Co-Captain in 2019. O’Dea was named in the All Australian AFLW Team in 2017 and 2018, making the squad in 2019.
“Given the fact I now play AFL professionally for Melbourne Demons FC my advice for young players would be to surround yourself with a supportive team of people, work hard, learn from setbacks and don’t put ceilings on what you can achieve in life. If you do what you love to the best of your ability you will succeed in whatever you do and you’ll enjoy the journey too.” she said.
In the AFLW off-season, O’Dea finds herself sporting the colours of the Darebin Falcons VFLW side who she played consecutive premierships with from 2013 – 2016. She was awarded Player’s Player for the side in 2016.
Mark Armstrong said he was surprised and flattered to be acknowledged in this way.
“It was a big surprise. Supporting students in their AFL development has been an enjoyable part of my job over the past 23 years. You don’t expect this type of recognition for doing for your job” he said.
“Playing footy with my mates is one of my greatest childhood memories. School Football is healthy and exciting, and a great way for kids to demonstrate teamwork. If students enjoy the experience enough to then join a club and play into the future then each individual benefits, as does the game.”
On Wednesday, Armstrong will be there at Hughes Oval to present the Inaugural Armstrong Cup to the College Boys.
Armstrong was inducted into the AFL Canberra Hall of Fame in 2013 and celebrated for the on-going contribution he has made to football in the ACT. He was part of the Queanbeyan Tigers’ three-peat from 1998-2000, captaining the latter, was playing coach for nine years before he retired in 2010. In 2015, came out of retirement to bring the Queanbeyan Tigers to victory against the Belconnen Magpies scoring four goals in the Grand Final.
Armstrong still holds the title as the all-time leading goal-kicker in the competition with more than 800 goals.
Armstrong heads up Erindale College’s Talented Sports Program (a program he established), and is a firm believer in the power of sport and it’s connection to one’s personal development.
“Sport provides a great foundation for young people. Values such as commitment, teamwork, striving to win, resilience and integrity are vital. Theses values help form who we become as adults”
When asked about the upcoming Cup and advice he would offer to players for their future endeavours, Armstrong said “Find things you enjoy, that are good for you, and become the best you can be at them”.
All the action begins from 9.00am on Wednesday the 5th of June at with three rounds followed by the finals series.
The Mark Armstrong College Boys and Elise O’Dea College Girls Grand Final will be held at 2.30pm at Hughes Oval.
You can view the full draw here.