NEW to the Australian rules football code, Queensland talent Maddison Levi has made an impression in a short amount of time. Only a couple of years ago she had never played before, but opted to give the sport and a go and has gone from strength to strength since. A member of the AFL Women’s National Academy for 2020, Levi has plenty of upside at 177cm, and will play out her top-age year this year. But football has not always been on the agenda.
“Two years ago our school team was short on numbers for our AFL team and being in the PEex (Physical Education Extension) program I put my hand up just to fill in and started from there,” Levi said. “Then last year I was like ‘I really enjoy this sport’ so then I joined Burleigh Bombers and it’s just taken off from there, to the SUNS Academy and now through to Queensland.”
Levi knew the step up from casually playing for her school to being on track through the elite pathway would be a challenge, but instead of getting ahead of herself, she tried to embrace as much knowledge as she could from more experienced players.
“It’s been a major learning experience,” Levi said at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships last year. “There’s a lot of room for improvement and as I’m still a bottom-ager. “Learning from all the older girls has been a massive eye-opener and developer.”
Coming from a rugby background, there were some similarities, but also a number of changes that had to be made to adapt to the new sport, though Levi has made it work.
“I think they both work hand-in-hand,” Levi said. “The tackling from rugby made me a stronger player in AFL. “And the ball skills you need from rugby, but just the kicking and the little finer skills are a bit different.”
The choice to switch from rugby to football was not an easy one, but Levi said she enjoys the ability to run off and take the game on, with greater freedom from game-to-game. Her attack on the football is one of her self-proclaimed strengths, while the fine turning of that skill transition from rugby to football is still an area of improvement for the teenager.
“(My strengths are) attacking the football and my efforts,” Levi said. “I believe I can contribute to the team. “Just the desperation for the football, winning it to get it out. “Definitely kicking (is an improvement), because I came from rugby, kicking has been my biggest area for improvement. “And hands, just refining the finer skills.”
Now heading into her top-age year in 2020, Levi said she was excited for everything that was to come. Speaking at the championships last year, she knew there was time on her side to continue her development, but she would not leave a stone unturned in achieving it.
“That’s my goal (to go as far as I can with footy),” she said. So  gives me a whole other year to improve and get ready for draft season which will be in a year’s time so hopefully, fingers crossed that’s where I’m looking to go.”
Before then, Levi will aim to run out with Queensland again at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships and gain greater experience and exposure. In 2019, she averaged 11.5 disposals and five tackles per game showing just why she has been so highly rated in her state.
“It’s a massive opportunity to represent your whole state, a massive experience and definitely an honour,” she said.