King eyes improvement beyond achievements

DESPITE making history by becoming Tasmania Devils’ first ever goalkicker, and then backing up her NAB League Girls season with entry into the AFL Women’s Academy for 2021, Perri King is not content to rest on her laurels. Instead of worrying about what is out of her control in terms of draft contention, King has set her sights on improving areas of her game to be the most complete player she can be.

My improvements and what I really want to work on would definitely be, getting the hands out more rather than kicking straight away,” King said. “Use my teammates to handball and get it back, so that’s what I’m trying to improve on this year for this season.”

Having come through the Tasmanian football pathway, King has always been involved in football one way or another given her family’s connections to the sport. It was not until a few years ago that King finally took the plunge once a female football pathway opened up and she started on a journey that would lead her to the elite junior level.

I started football in 2017, so four years I’ve been playing,” King said. “But I’ve always been around my brother and my dad’s team since I was little. “I’ve always wanted to play since then, but since female footy wasn’t really around then I waited until 2017 because I did other sports. “When it was introduced to Tassie, that’s where I got introduced to it a year later.”

Having arrived at the Devils, King was about to find out just how high-level the program was, with plenty of extra requirements and standards that help develop aspiring AFL Women’s players to be the best possible player on and off the field.

“I started as juniors and I’ve been going to seniors and then the Devils and the standards just keep getting higher and higher each year,” King said. “Devils is high standards, more testing, it’s more serious, more opportunities from the Devils from what we would normally get in Tassie than we would get in the state league. “There’s more opportunities for us in this program than what it would be like through juniors and the state league as well.”

King is known for her speed and strength, which allows her to be a powerful player around the ground, but will likely be a prominent midfielder when the Devils take to the field in the 2021 NAB League Girls competition.

“I see my strengths as speed and my aggression to the football,” King said. “Really just speed, so I have the capability to get the ball and give it to my teammates, and my aggression when in defence, when I attack or I fight to get the ball.”

Already having tasted NAB League Girls action last year, King became the first – and given the season was cut short before the Devils could play another game – only goalkicker, writing her name into the history books. It was a feat that was not lost on King, who praised her teammates for helping her achieve the feat.

“I was actually quite gobsmacked because I never thought I’d be the first Tassie girl to kick a goal,” King said. “It was such an honour, but without the help of my teammates it wouldn’t have happened either. “It was such a big moment because it was our first year in the actual NAB League. “It was sad that it got cut short, but I’m keen for this year with the girls.”

King has always had support from her family, who she said are among her inspirations on her football journey that is only a few years in.

“My biggest inspiration would probably be my dad and my cousin, because they’ve always helped me with football and always pushed me and pushed me to do better, and made me believe myself when I didn’t,” King said.

As for her ultimate goal, King wants to play at the elite level, but also wants to enter the system as prepared as she can be, so 2021 looms as a massive year for the teenager who is solely focused on herself and improving areas of her game.

“I would really like to get drafted, but I would like to improve my footy abilities more, and get to know the girls more because it’s a new team,” King said. “But one day I would like to get drafted so that’s what I’m aiming for.

“I need to obviously do more skill work, so I can improve on that. “The main one for me would be my mental state, because sometimes I can’t believe I can do it when I probably could, so I need to improve on that so then I can go to the next step and not doubt myself.”

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