Tag: Emmii-Lee Zanker-Close

Family support inspires Zanker-Close to footy pathway

HAVING so many footballers in the family certainly helps. It is even more beneficial when one family member has reached the elite level of AFL Women’s football. For Queensland AFL Women’s Under-18 representative, Emmii-Lee Zanker-Close, she has been surrounded by footballers and always seemed destined to cross into the sport from her chosen code of netball growing up. That transition became all but certain when her cousin, Eden Zanker was drafted to Melbourne ahead of the 2018 AFL Women’s season.

“Definitely my mum and dad have always been very supportive,” Zanker-Close said. “But also my cousin Eden Zanker. “The pathways she’s taken definitely a different pathway to me, but just talking to her – she’s at the elite level and just seeing what the differences are like – having that extra support of someone who has been at the top level and know what it’s like is just awesome to have.”

So just exactly what is it like having a relative playing at the elite level?

“It’s really good, it’s kind of scary though because there’s always the expectations because it’s a family member, you’ve kind of got to live up to that but it pushes you harder I guess,” Zanker-Close said. “To try and reach that level and be with them.”

Zanker-Close was a late bloomer to football, not taking the plunge until halfway through high school. When she finally did get out on the park after choosing to chase her dream, the unthinkable happened.

“Footy’s always been a sport I’ve always wanted to play,” she said. “My dad played, my brother’s played, but I never really had the opportunity. “In Year 9 I started playing school footy, I was then drafted into the Sunset team, however after playing my first club game of footy, I did my ACL, and that was a massive step back so I missed my first year of footy technically.”

That injury caused plenty of frustration for Zanker-Close, having worked hard to get to her first competitive game, only to go down with a year-long injury. But despite many suggesting the sport might not have been for her or worth having a second crack, she decided to knuckle down and throw everything at a return.

“It sucked a lot,” Zanker-Close said. “I saw a lot of my friends making Queensland, travelling the state, it really upset me. “But it never crossed my mind to quit, like I always thought I’m going to play again. “So many people questioned ‘you’ve played one game, why would you want to keep playing after you hurt yourself so majorly?’ but it never even crossed my mind to quit. “I was always determined to play footy.”

While Zanker-Close has made it to state representative level, she still knows there is a long way to go, identifying both her strengths and areas of improvements for the future.

“I feel like my height is definitely an advantage, it helps me on my one-on-ones,” Zanker-Close said. “Especially playing in the backline, being able to out-body my [opponent], aim to spoil. “But things I want to improve on is looking to switch and just staying composed. “I’m really hard on myself, so just overcoming things a lot quicker and that’s about it.”

QWAFL: The run home

AFTER looking at both Western Australia and South Australia’s top female competitions, we delve into Queensland’s highest grade, with the Queensland Women’s Australian Football League (QWAFL) and also take a glimpse into the first division.

QWAFL:

1 Wilston Grange (11 wins, 1 loss | 381.14% | 44 points)

After a near perfect season, Wilston Grange had a shock loss to sixth placed University of Queensland in the last round, going down by 18 points at home. Prior to that, they had answered every challenge thrown at them and still sit in pole position for the overall premiership favouritism. They face Coolangatta Tweed and Yeronga South Brisbane in the final three rounds, either side of a bye. Courtney Daniec has been the star player for the ladder leaders, named in the best seven times of a possible 10 matches, whilst booting nine goals for the season. Catherine Svarc has been equally as impressive with four goals in 10 games and named in the best six times, but the future of Queensland football has been on show with talented bottom-ager Isabel Dawes who has been named among the best in every game she has played – six matches – and continued that form at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Jacqueline Yorston (seven goals in six games) is another youngster who has stood out, while the experience of Kate Lutkins and Jamie Stanton – before her move to Victoria – has proved invaluable. The Gorillas are well placed heading into the final few rounds.

 

2 Coorparoo (8 wins, 4 losses | 181.92% | 32 points)

Heading into its third and final bye for the season, Coorparoo have locked away second spot with a superior percentage to Coolangatta Tweed. The byes have proven to come at opportune times, with the second placed side losing three of its matches leading into them. They lost two consecutive games early in the season, including one to Bond University in Round 3, have lost both games to Wilston Grange, and went down to Yeronga South Brisbane in its most recent encounter just last weekend. The team has had an even contribution of stars, with Charlotte Edmunds named in the best five times from 11 matches, while Hayley Moore (nine matches), Kayla Geddes (11) and Maili Forbes (11) have all found their way into the team bests four times. Jenae Goven has started up forward with an impressive 25 goals in 10 games, including a haul of eight goals against Bond University. Brisbane Lions’ AFL Women’s player Jessica Wuetschner has made an impact in limited appearances, booting 23 goals in six games, named in the best three times. In terms of youth, Coorparoo has top talents Jesse Tawhiao-Wardlaw and Tori Groves-Little playing important roles in the side. Both players stood out at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, and in their combined nine appearances, they have booted 13 goals.

 

3 Coolangatta Tweed (6 wins, 5 losses | 123.12% | 24 points)

The Blues had an initial shaky start to the season, losing three of its first six games, but two of its three wins were by a combined 165 points, restricting their opponents to just two goals total. In a remarkable fixture, they played just one game in three rounds with byes either side of the match, and played blocks of six and seven games throughout the season. They come up against the top team Wilston Grange this weekend, as well as Coorparoo in the final round. Maddy Roberts has played just the seven games, but her talent has been evident, named in the best on six occasions, likewise Georgia Breward with five bests from five games. Lauren James has been the dominant goal kicker for the side, booting 16 goals in 11 matches and named in the best four times. Talented youngster and NSW/ACT All-Australian player Brianna McFarlane has booted nine goals in six games and been impressive up forward. Selina Goodman and Tayla Jay Daly have also booted six goals this season.

 

4 Yeronga South Brisbane (5 wins, 6 losses | 56.03% | 20 points)

Yeronga South Brisbane have a game in hand compared to Bond University and hold a narrow percentage advantage over their nearest rivals. They take them on in the penultimate round of the season, after University of Queensland next week and the ladder leaders, Wilston Grange in the final round. Emily Bliss has been the standout player for Yeronga, named in the best an impressive eight times from 10 games. Assisting Bliss are young stars, the small but talented top-age Georgia Brehmer, and bottom-age tall utility Dee Heslop. Both players have been named in their sides’ best in five of the six games they have played. They do not have a dominant goal kicker, with Courtney McDonnell (nine goals), Jade Ransfield (seven), Demi Leach (six) and Kaitlyn Cantrell (five) the leading goal kickers. Brisbane AFL Women’s player Emily Bates has also stood out from five games, booting two goals and named in the best four times.

 

5 Bond University (5 wins, 7 losses | 50.35% | 20 points)

Bond University has a bye in the final round of the season, with games against bottom-placed Maroochydore and fourth placed Yeronga South Brisbane ahead. Their five wins have come against Coolangatta Tweed (two), University of Queensland (one), Maroochydore (one) and an upset win over Coorparoo in Round 3. Kristyl Smith has been the standout player for Bond Uni so far this season, named in the team bests nine of a possible 11 times. Alexandra Evanshas also been a standout performer, named in the best six of a possible 12 matches, while Arianna ClarkeErin Sundstrom and Tamsin Perry have been consistent players as well. Teenage ruck Lauren Bella has played six games and named in the best five times, while bottom-agers Charlotte HammansEmmii-Lee Zanker CloseGeorgia Ellerand Serene Watson have stepped up in the senior side and continued their form at the national carnival. Fellow state representative Taylor Smith has also managed six games and was named in the best twice.

 

6 University of Queensland (4 wins, 7 losses | 87.82% | 16 points)

Whilst the University of Queensland has had just the four wins this season, but their game of the year came last round when they toppled the premiership favourites, Wilston Grange. It was a memorable away match which saw the sixth placed side head home with an 18-point victory. They have also beaten each of the bottom four sides once so far this season. Breanna Koenen has not missed a beat this year in her six games – named best in all of them – while also booting four goals. Megan Hunt has found her way into the best five times from nine games and also booted three goals. But with an eye to the future, Queensland Most Valuable Player (MVP) in the recent AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, and All-Australian squad member, Natalie Grider has been a promising up-and-coming talent, playing eight games, booting four goals and has been named in the best five times. Dakota Davidson is the only goal kicker in double figures with 10 majors, while Sabrina Frederick-Traub has booted seven goals in just three games when not playing for Brisbane in the Winter Series. Gabby Collingwood and Kate McCarthy are other Brisbane AFL Women’s Players who have played limited games with the club.

 

7 Maroochydore (1 win, 10 losses | 36.42% | 4 points)

The bottom-placed Maroochydore started the season with a bang, defeating University of Queensland by 12 points. In that match they booted 10 goals and showed what they are capable of, but have just managed the maximum of three goals a game since. They pushed both Yeronga South Brisbane and Bond University all the way in rounds six and seven, and have restricted their opposition to less than 10 goals in all but three matches showing a good defensive effort. The Roos have also had the benefit of some stability at the top end, with Rachel Crack (10 games), Tayla Gesch (11), Tiffany Dale (11) and Kate Surman (10) all named in the best a total of 27 of a possible 43 times between them. Up forward, Isabella Freeman leads the goal kicking with eight majors, courtesy of a bag of five in the opening round win over University of Queensland. Georgia Doherty has booted seven goals in nine matches, while Marybeth Banks has five in nine. The Roos face Bond University and University of Queensland either side of Coorparoo in the final three rounds, and will be hoping to finish the season off on a high note.

 

QWFA Division 1:

In the 11-team, division one grade, Coorparoo, Aspley Hornets and Moreton Bay lead all comers, with massive percentages to be the clear flag favourites in a three-team race. Broadbeach is fourth with seven wins and a draw from 12 matches, while Burleigh and Kedron are ready to pounce six points behind. Wilston Grange and University of Queensland trail with five wins from 12 matches, while Coolangatta Tweed and Yeronga South Brisbane have two wins apiece ahead of the winless Maroochydore.

In the leading goal kicker stakes, Aspley Hornets’ Chloe Macdonald looks to be a class above the grade with 37 majors in 13 matches, including bags of nine, seven and six. Meg Pullinger is a clear second with the Coorparoo product averaging three goals a game from her eight matches, having booted 24 majors for the season. Aspley Hornets have two more goal kickers in the top five, with Sarah Madden (19) and Shaye Easton (15) either side of Moreton Bay’s Cassandra Chamings with 17. Wilston Grange’s Tamika Hansen (14), Kedron’s Lisiti Asimcdonald (12), Broadbeach’s Talena Irvine (11), Burleigh’s Wendy Bristow (eight), Yeronga South Brisbane’s Erin Sargeant (seven), University of Queensland’s Katherine Heliotis (seven) and Coolangatta Tweed’s Macey-Leigh Gore (seven) as their respective club’s leading goal kickers, while Abbey Main and Jessica Champion are the two multiple goal kickers for Maroochydore.

Sargeant and Moreton Bay’s Amy Higgins are the two leading players so far this season, named in the best 10 times from 12 games, while University of Queensland’s Jessica Middleton has had a perfect start to the season with nine bests from nine games. Teammate, Philomena Stephen, Yeronga South Brisbane’s Charmaine Hass and Coorparoo’s Amy Duxfield have also made their way into their respective team’s best. Looking at the top youth in the grade, Queensland bottom-ager Lily Postlethwaite has been named in the best five times in seven matches, booting eight goals in the process for Moreton Bay.

AFLW U18 Championships previews: Queensland

DESPITE losing its first two matches in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Queensland has a promising list of players that are likely to perform well in the carnival. We took a look at the side’s key players and its upcoming fixture ahead of round two of the National Championships on the Gold Coast.

Key players:

Dee Heslop

Heslop was named best-on-ground in both Queensland’s matches against Western Australia in round one of the Championships. At just 16 years of age, she is already showing the maturity of a senior player with some solid football across the first two games. Heslop is a member of the Gold Coast Suns Academy and plays for the Gold Coast Suns in the AFLW Winter Series, which gives her some key experience ahead of the National Championships.

Lauren Bella

Lauren Bella is the vice-captain of the Queensland side and is one of the tallest players in the Championships. She is a Bond University student who gave up a promising netball career to devote her time to football. Bella also plays for the Gold Coast Suns in the AFLW Winter Series and Bond in the QWAFL. She is a part of the Gold Coast Suns Academy and will bring that experience to the Under 18 Championships. Originally from Mackay, Bella has moved to Bond to pursue her football career further and it has paid dividends, as she was the side’s MVP last year and earned a spot in the All Australian team.

Lily Postlethwaite

Postlethwaite is a member of the AFLW Academy and was named second best in Queensland’s first game against Western Australia. She was an impressive performer for Queensland in last year’s championships, and was named in the Brisbane Lions Academy Youth squad. She has been shining in the game since she was as young as 15, as she was named in the All Australian side at that age. Postlethwaite is an exciting midfielder who has also represented her state at the School Sport Australia National AFL Championships.

Tori Groves-Little

Like Postlethwaite, Tori Grove-Little is also a member of the AFLW Academy. The 17 year-old hails from Coorparoo and just three years ago, she was named as the joint MVP and All Australian at the 2015 Under 15 National Schoolgirls Championships. Groves-Little plays for the Gold Coast Suns in the AFLW Winter Series, and is also a member of their Academy, meaning that she gets to develop her football at two different football academies. This will prove invaluable as she looks to help her side record a win in the tournament.

Kitara Farrar

Kitara Farrar is a South Cairns local who has found herself in the AFLW Academy on the back of some stellar form for her local side. Farrar took out the South Cairns Best and Fairest, Rising Star and best-on-ground in her side’s grand final win. She has had a good start to this year’s Championships, as she was named amongst the best in Queensland’s narrow three-point loss against Western Australia.

Zimmorlei Farquharson

Farquharson is the youngest player in the side, but this has not seemed to faze the 16 year-old, who has got her Nationals campaign to a good start. She was named amongst the best in both of Queensland’s first-round matches against Western Australia and comes into the competition with an impressive array of accolades next to her name. In 2017, she was awarded the MVP and Player of the Series accolades for her efforts in U16 Queensland Academy Championships. In the previous year, she was named as the co-captain of the Queensland All Nations team at the AFL National Diversity Championships and was selected for the Australian Medleys team.

 

Fixture:

Game 1: vs. Victoria Country

Monday July 9 at Metricon Stadium

An intriguing battle will be set up when 2017 All Australian, Lauren Bella goes up against AFLW Academy member, Rene Caris. Bella is four centimetres taller than Caris and has a netball background that could hold her in good stead in this match. It will be exciting to see the likes of Lily Postlethwaite go head-to-head against Country stars such as Tyla Hanks, Nina Morrison and Olivia Purcell, who have been tearing it up at the TAC Cup Girls level.

Game 2: vs. Victoria Metro

Wednesday July 11 at Broadbeach

Plenty of young talent will be on display here as Zimmorlei Farquharson and Dee Heslop will get to showcase their skills against some of Victoria’s finest female footballers. Young guns, Gabby Newton and Isabella Grant have already showed plenty of promise in the big ‘V’ but could be challenged by the speed and excitement that the Queensland duo can demonstrate.

Game 3: vs. Eastern Allies

Friday July 13 at Bond University  

The Queensland side will come up against two states full of female talent in this match but some players will feel right at home. Georgia Eller, Charlotte Hammans, Serene Watson, Emmii-Lee Zanker-Close, Taylor Smith and Lauren Bella all play for Bond and are likely to know the ground well. Hammans has already scored a goal in each of her outings for Queensland so far in the tournament and will be keen to get some more majors on the board. However, Eastern Allies defender, Eloise Ashley-Cooper will be hard to get past on the day, thanks to her TAC Cup Girls and state representative experience.