Players to Watch in 2016 – Rachel Achampong


Rachel Achampong has been a force to be reckoned with in her seven seasons with the Sharks. Her aggression, determination and sheer willingness to do anything for her team make her one of the most imposing figures in the VWFL.

This pre-season, Rach has lifted to a whole new level. She has been training five to six times a week to make sure 2016 is her best season ever and can’t wait to see the hard work pay off on the field.


There are a number of factors pushing Rach to her limits this pre-season. Last year’s devastating loss to Melbourne Uni in round one of the finals, the desire to be the best she can be and most importantly, her love for her teammates.

Since returning from a year off in 2013, Rach came back to the Sharks with a new found appreciation for football and her friends at St Kilda. She has now become one of the most vocal and popular players at the club and because of this, she is a true leader.

“I always try and direct and encourage my teammates. It’s not about making sure everyone knows where I am on the ground, it’s about me trying to encourage everyone to be the best they can be.”

In terms of being the best they can be, Rach is leading the way. For the last two-and-a-half-years she has been seeing a strength and conditioning coach twice a week who has devised a specific program for Rach and her position in the ruck.

“We do speed and agility work and weights. I’ve always gone to the gym sporadically, but my trainer has really helped me learn how to push myself in terms of lifting heavy weights and has provided me with a new approach to fitness. I’ve noticed that doing more specific exercises like squats and deadlifts have really helped with my game.”

Just prior to Christmas, Rach reached a personal best in her deadlifts.

“I had a 135kg one-repetition-max deadlift, which I’m pretty proud of. So that will help with my leap and hopefully get me up in the air to take marks, which is something I would like to do more of.”


Rach’s aggression on the field is unmatched and has lead to her nickname the “Freight Train”.

“They call me the Freight Train because I’m a big unit! I love playing hard football and I always respect others who play hard. I’ve had a few bad injuries because of it. In 2014 I had 11 stiches in my forehead. I had the stiches out in seven days so I didn’t miss a game. I’ve also split the webbing between my fingers and dislocated some fingers.”


Rach is extremely excited for what’s to come for the league and for the Sharks in 2016.

“I think it’s going to be a really exciting year. Every year women’s football gets more exciting, but it’s definitely going to be the case this year with the State League. There are 10 teams! I don’t think there have ever been that many teams in the competition since I started playing footy.”

“The Sharks have the potential to have a very good season. I think the belief is there this year. These last couple of weeks everyone’s really pulled together and got behind this shared vision of ours”.

“This is the year we can either do something different and really have a go at it or otherwise we will get left behind as the competition progresses. I don’t think any of the girls want to get left behind. I think they’ve all realised that the time is now for us to step up and really start working hard together.”

Phoebe McWilliams