Panthers’ Kraft finds right balance

HAILING from South Australia, Brooklyn Kraft is an exciting young prospect who is hoping to leave her mark on the football world with her ruck craft and hard work. Although still relatively fresh to the football world having only picked up the sport in Year 8, Kraft has some undeniable raw talent, something her teachers saw and encouraged her to pursue.

“At Victor, my old high school, there was a carnival – my teachers invited me out to it because they noticed my athletic ability. I played there and after that they made a football Academy at my school to play against football teams up in Adelaide,” she said.

When asked about what aspect of footy Kraft liked the youngster struggled to put a finger on just one area, noting both the on-field and off-field bonuses of playing footy.

“I like how like there’s so many different skills you can put into football like marking and handballing… I like the team culture around it, like it’s nice,” she said.

Standing at 182cm, Kraft makes full use of her height able to compete in the air and most importantly ply her trade in the ruck, an area she believes to be one her strengths. However a downside of her height is her mobility, something the 17-year-old hopes to improve on as she develops as a player.

“Probably my rucking like tapping the ball, marking and kicking,” she said. “In the future I want to improve my tackling probably and just around the ground movement.”

In her short career the South Australian has already tasted her fair share of success being part of the South Adelaide premiership winning side in 2019 at the ripe age of 16, a moment she recalls fondly despite all the nervous jitters and cold weather.

“Very nervous when I went out there, very like new to me and I only had played I think three games before that so I was very surprised that I got chucked in the grand final team. It was very cold, (but) it was so exciting when we won two in a row as well, at the club everyone was getting around that,” she said.

In her first grand final appearance the youngster looked to fellow up and comers in Montana McKinnon and draftee hopeful Teah Charlton to help guide her through while also leaning on the experience and smarts of their captain, Lauren Buchanan given her relative inexperience especially when it came to performing on the big stage.

“Montana McKinnon and Teah Charlton, she’s always a good player to look up to and Lauren Buchanan our captain she’s very nice.”

Prior to picking up the oblong ball, Kraft plied her trade on the netball court before making the hard decision to put down the bib and permanently work on her ruck craft with South Adelaide, with time commitment a huge factor in her decision.

“I quit completely now because it was getting too much with the trainings colliding with football training,” she said. “Sometimes I would have to call up netball and ask, if it was getting close to the finals as well I’d have to ask and say I have an opportunity to go out with South and train and sometimes they’d be like yeah, some of the times I had to commit to the netball.”

Having played nine games at SANFLW level this season, Kraft has steadily developed and relished the game time with South Adelaide. Last year Kraft made the move from her local stomping ground in Victor to be closer to her football and reduce the amount of hours spent on the road.

“We used to live down in Victor so we had to do a lot of travel but last year we moved up here and started renting,” she said. “Yeah (it is) much easier to get here to football. It saves a lot of time travelling. Back when I was living in Victor it was like probably an hour drive up so maybe four hours a week driving because it was back and forth.”

Travel was not the only thing Kraft had to balance, highlighting the toll on fitting in schoolwork around her heavy workload.

“Schoolwork has been pretty hard to balance. Just been getting used to managing it like training nights I would probably work a lot at school and then just have the training night,” she said.

When asked about her goals for the future there was one thing in mind and that was to “get drafted and play in the AFLW”, something that could become a reality for the South Australian product. Kraft also indicated her desire to play alongside two-time premiership player Erin Phillips with the youngster making mention of her sheer class and star power.

“Her skills are so good, just everything, her fitness, she’s just an amazing footballer.”

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