IN a new series focusing on the up and coming AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls, we take a look at some names who would be among their respective states’ top draft prospects for the 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Next under the microscope is Murray Bushrangers’ key forward Olivia Barber who is one of the most talented players going around and is also a high-level basketballer
Olivia Barber (Murray Bushrangers/Vic Country)
Position: Key Forward
Strengths: Contested marking, scoreboard impact, ground balls, goal sense, athleticism
2020 NAB League stats: 1 game | 7.0 disposals | 3.0 marks | 3.0 tackles | 1.0 inside 50s | 2.0 hitouts | 1 goal
2019 NAB League stats: 6 games | 10.5 disposals | 3.7 marks | 3.0 tackles | 1.0 inside 50s | 2.0 hitouts | 7 goals
AFLW U18 Girls Championships: 3 games | 10.7 disposals | 3.3 marks | 6.0 hitouts | 1.7 tackles | 1.3 inside 50s | 5 goals
One of the most touted key forwards after last year’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships was Murray Bushrangers and Vic Country’s Olivia Barber. Coming from a basketball background and playing at the sub-elite Australian level, Barber shows how she can apply these traits to her football game as a key forward. Whilst the tall has also spent time through the ruck on occasion, she is predominantly a leading and marking key forward.
What makes Barber unique is the fact she has great athleticism and once she has the positioning, is hard to spoil given her height and reach. But even more so is her ability to win one-on-ones not only in the air, but at ground level. Unlike many talls, Barber immediately can switch into the role of a small and cleanly pick it up at ground level and dish it off or follow up her work inside 50 with a quick shot, not akin to an offensive rebound in basketball.
Last year Barber was ready to explode inside 50, but just lacked some accuracy on goal in the NAB League. Enter in the AFL Women’s Championships, and Barber was slotting them from everywhere, as if everything had come together. She has always been a terrific mark and has a high work rate, it was just rewarding herself with the finished product. She booted seven goals in six games in 2019, which is great, but could have had even more to apply scoreboard pressure.
Unfortunately a concussion in Round 1 this year ruled her out of the Bushrangers’ next game, and then COVID-19 forced her to miss the rest of the season. But when talking key forwards in this year’s draft, Barber is arguably the most talented of the lot, and coming from the Victorian-New South Wales border and playing her junior footy at Lavington (just north of Albury), no doubt it will be interesting where her football takes her. An All-Australian in her middle-age year, Barber is most certainly one to watch.