NORTHERN Knights captain, Maddy Brancatisano enjoyed her leadership role throughout the TAC Cup Girls season, as she led her side to the inaugural TAC Cup Girls Grand Final.
Her sister, Lily captained the Knights last year and now plays for Geelong in the Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s competition. But despite the family name, Brancatisano did not expect to be handed the captaincy this year.
“I just did not think about it (being captain), it didn’t even come to my mind,” she said. “Then I got asked, I was so flattered. “It was awesome to lead those girls.”
The Knights midfielder ultimately led her side to a near perfect record, winning against every team except the Geelong Falcons. Leading a young side, the 18 year-old was initially focused on their development, but admits that she was able to develop her leadership as well.
“Being able to lead everyone and just direct them around, it helps also my confidence too,” Brancatisano said.
This certainly showed on the field, as the 18 year-old led by example with her clean hands, fierce tackling and elite ball-use. Not only did she benefit from the captaincy, but she also benefited from bonding with her teammates. Brancatisano says there was rarely a moment that she didn’t enjoy in their company.
“I don’t think there was a session where we didn’t have fun or enjoy it,” the Knights midfielder said. “We got so close, it was like family.”
She believes that her captaincy role enabled her to showcase her own skills, which was well-recognised throughout the season. Brancatisano was named in the best four times and was rewarded with a place in the Vic Metro squad for the National AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Amidst her TAC Cup journey, the 18 year-old admits that playing for Vic Metro never really crossed her mind.
“You don’t really think about it (playing Nationals) in TAC Cup, it’s more just about the winning and developing,” Brancatisano said. “When I got the invitation, I was rapt.”
With nationals football now on her busy plate, Brancatisano is prioritising Aussie Rules over her second love, basketball. But despite being in Year 12 this year, the Knights captain was reluctant to give up the sport she has been playing since she was a child.
“I’ve been doing it (basketball) my whole life and I’ve just grown up around it,” Brancatisano said. “I’ve never really been selected for many state things or anything so I’ve just been enjoying it and playing because I love it. “But at the moment, playing SEABL (South East Australian Basketball League), it’s such a high level so I’m rapt to be able to do that, even if I sit on the bench and play a few minutes. “Not sure if I’ll do it next year with football, but I’ll just see where that goes.”
She has a lot of football ahead of her, as she is training with Carlton’s Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s side and is about to hop on a plane to the Gold Coast to play for Vic Metro.
Even though she loves her sport, Brancatisano still has her sights set on university next year, but would love to continue to pursue her bright football career.