IN our latest Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s Player Focus, Draft Central’s Liam Badkin looks at Port Melbourne’s Jaide Anthony during her debut against Southern Saints last week. Anthony started in defence and finished up forward in what was a promising first outing for the talented teenager, who made Vic Country and has put together a strong draft year in between a couple of concussions which has soured an otherwise impressive year to-date.
She looked settled throughout the whole game, and while there were some mistakes made, they were with the best intentions, as she tried some kicks that had some potential to break the game open. Her side struggled for the day, but Anthony was absolutely one of her side’s best performers with her composure and competitiveness deep in defence. She did not look out of place at the level and that is incredibly rare to find in a debutant.
Naturally, she began the match on the bench, giving her the opportunity to get a feel for the pace of the game she was about to enter. She went straight to the backline, where she quickly caught the eye with her ability to break off her opponent and get into dangerous space, even if she did not always get the ball. Her first touch came at half-back, where she laid a bone-crunching tackle on an opponent and was rewarded with a free kick. It was a perfect start for the AFLW Draft prospect, as she nailed the kick shortly after and became settled in defence.
The second quarter saw Anthony grow with confidence as she attacked the contest with absolute ferocity, holding the ball up for a stoppage on multiple occasions. A highlight saw Anthony receive a handball from a teammate as she waited outside a pack and use her pace to draw an opponent in as she dished off an excellent handball to a teammate in space. She was not done there, as she continued running into space to collect the handball back, but she was held onto as she received the ball and was unable to take possession. It was an example of her excellent skill set, and her willingness to take the game on and create some run for her side. She ended the quarter with a turnover from an inboard kick that was cut off, but with her side stagnant, it was not a poor option.
The third quarter saw Anthony continue to attempt kicks that flirted with danger. A second turnover resulted, but her coaches wouldn’t have been too displeased, as there were not many options available ahead. While she found less of the ball this term, she continued to hurt the opposition when given the chance. Her best moment came when she stood under a hospital ball deep in defence and held her ground to take a crucial mark. She executed the switch kick as she combined with her teammates to create some run out of the backline.
She spent time forward of the ball in the final term as the coaches attempted to inject some speed into a slower forward line. Starved of opportunity, she almost set up a teammate for a goal with an exceptional spreading handball, but the gather was fumbled, and the goal went begging.
TOTAL STATS: 7 kicks, 3 handballs, 10 disposals, 3 tackles
Anthony looks like she belongs at this level of football or even higher, as she has rightfully been declared one of 2021’s top draft prospects. This performance has only expressed this even further, as she fought off the pressure of the moment to deliver a solid debut despite her side falling by 27 points. A big match-up against Collingwood awaits this weekend and expect Anthony to be right among the contest wherever they play her, as this performance demonstrated her ability play at both ends of the ground. A bright future awaits.