Tag: nab league girls

Tenacious Snow takes the long road to her footballing goal

THE PATH less travelled by is a phrase often attached to the journey of budding AFL Women’s draftees. Well, how does Perth, to Singapore, to America, to Melbourne sound?

That’s the journey Northern Knights prospect Ashleigh Snow has embarked on throughout her young life, with an AFLW club potentially the next destination. The diminutive defender-turned-midfielder learned to play football through a school program during her seven years in Singapore, and says she “always wanted to play” having watched her brother and dad do the same.

“I went to an Aussie school, so they had a little program where I learned to play,” Snow said. “My brother and dad played so I just always wanted to play. I played there for two years and then came back to Melbourne and that’s where I joined my first girl’s team at West Preston.”

Snow entered the Northern Knights through its development program, before turning out six times throughout the region’s undefeated premiership season in 2019, and thrice more in 2020. Though injury kept her out of last year’s Grand Final team, Snow came back strongly as a top-ager.

Her form was enough to warrant a National Combine invite, something which Snow says was “unexpected” following the cancellation of this year’s NAB League season.

“In the year that Knights won the NAB League premiership, I missed out because of my injury which was a bit hard,” she said. “I went back this year and only got to play the three games, but I feel like I came back pretty (strongly) and got to show what I could do in those games.”

“I started playing midfield which was a bit different because I played (in the) backline for the last two years before that. I feel like I seemed pretty determined and was always going hard for the ball. In one of the games I even got a goal against Calder, which is a bit different for me, always being down back.”

“The draft, being invited to the combine, and having the interviews was actually really unexpected for me. I just thought ‘the season’s over and that’s it’. “But luckily enough I have a little gym in my garage so I’ve been doing circuits every day to keep my fitness up. So hopefully if I do get drafted I’ll be in alright shape for preseason.”

Lauded for her tenacity and toughness at the ball despite her size, Snow’s importance to the team has long been known to those who can see past the conveyer belt of stars Northern has produced of late. She comes from good pedigree as well, with her father, David a former WAFL footballer and 1996 Simpson Medal winner. The ‘daughter-of’ says her dad has long been one of her greatest motivators, along with outgoing Knights coach Marcus Abney-Hastings.

“My dad has a massive footy background and I just have to say, he’s the one person who’s non-stop motivating me,” she said. (He is) always asking me to go for runs, do workouts with him, and wanting to go for kicks. “When I don’t want to do any of that he’ll keep pushing me and he knows that in the long run I’ll be thankful that he made me do it.”

“Marcus has been the coach for the whole three years I’ve been (at Northern). I really like him and feel like he’s been the most supportive…  obviously all the coaches as Knights like Marcus and Nat Grindal, they’ve been a massive help. “They’ve always made me keep belief in myself and given me the confidence that I sort of struggle to have.”

The Knights’ affiliation with Carlton’s AFLW side saw Snow choose the Blues as her favourite women’s side, though her upbringing in Perth meant she grew up a West Coast Eagles fan. Heading into the draft, Snow says she will be watching alongside her family and boyfriend at home amid Melbourne’s lockdown, hoping to hear her name called out.

“My parents and friends (have) always supported me in life. My boyfriend I think is my number one fan, he’s proudest out of everyone,” she said.

The 2020 AFL Women’s Draft will be held virtually at 7pm AEDT on October 6.

Moloney hopes to follow in father’s footsteps

ABBI Moloney might have first realised she could make the elite level when she made her local interleague side, but Australian rules football has always been in her blood. Moloney’s father Troy played 36 games for Footscray between 1987-1992 and now it is his daughter’s turn to see if she can reach the top level.

Having feared she might not get that opportunity in 2020 when the season was postponed and then called off, Moloney said receiving an AFL Women’s Draft Combine was just what she needed.

“It was definitely some good news after a pretty crappy 2020,” Moloney said. “I just never expected I would be good enough to be in the position I’m in now. It’s definitely increased my motivation to be so much more, just to be the best that I can. “That was my main thing and I guess I also was really happy because I was making dad proud. “He stuck with me throughout my entire journey and with him playing footy for Doggies back in the day, I was like it would be pretty cool if I was playing and I was pretty proud of myself and I never expected to be in this position because we weren’t playing this year, my skills could have decreased and all that. “But it just pushed me to want to keep going and developing.”

Indeed Moloney has been particularly working on her fitness over the break having only had a quick taste of the 2020 NAB League Girls season, but having an impact by booting eight goals in three games, and averaging 10.3 disposals and 3.3 marks in that time. Determined to reach the next level, Moloney has been focused on improving herself in any way she could.

“Knowing that the combine was coming up I wanted to – we had to do a 2k – I didn’t have to be the best out of the 2k, but do the best I could possibly do, set a PB (personal best) for myself and I did that and I was really happy with the effort I put in.”

Over the break, Moloney has been able to lean on her Dragons’ captain Winnie Laing with the pair providing company and support for one another during what was a tough time for top-age AFL Women’s draft prospects.

“We were doing heaps of kms per week with just hard fought effort just wanting to get our fitness up even though we weren’t playing football this year,” Moloney said. “It puts a bit of a strain on your when you have to go out and go for a run, you can’t see your teammates, it makes you a bit demotivated, but having Winnie there we pushed each other and I just wanted to get to the fittest that I could have been and I definitely still have a lot to do but I’m not stopping now.”

Having learned a lot of what she knows from her father, Moloney started her football career from a young age, signing up with her local East Malvern Knights.

“I just loved it from the very start and dad was also my coach so throughout my local footy journey, which finished last year, dad had been my coach so dad’s been a big part of that,” Moloney said. “I never really thought much about it while I was playing local that I wanted to play in the big leagues so I didn’t think about it that much.

“Once I decided to go to interleague and then that was where I was like ‘okay I’m not bad, this could be something I do for a while’ and I guess it went from interleague as that first step up from local to interleague more so than just playing for a bit of fun, that’s where it got a bit more competitive for me. “Then it went from there and then I went to Dragons, started Dragons at the end of Year 10 with preseason and now we’re here.”

Indeed her rise through the pathway has been impressive, with Moloney also juggling her footy with basketball that she played for “most of her life”. She also tried her hand at netball, tennis, gymnastics, cheerleading and lifesaving, or as Moloney said “a bit of everything”. But it was football that called to her because she loved every part of it, even the training.

“I think when I realised it came naturally to me and I understood the game really well and I think it was fun,” Moloney said. “I enjoyed the happiness from getting a goal, no other sport I would really be like if I had to go to training for basketball I was like ‘ohh great’ but I guess footy I could never get enough of it. “I wanted to be doing it 24/7 and it was just so much fun to me. “It was something that I really enjoyed. “With my footy my friends have just been a big part of it, they’ve been my main motivator and have helped me enjoy it as much as I do.”

The marking forward said her ability to take big grabs, or bring the ball to ground, and crash packs were among her top strengths. She has improved her kicking over time for it to be a key factor of her game, and she was not afraid of contact. Moloney said she hoped to improve on her opposite side – left foot – kicking, but also further developing her decision making and footy smarts. Whilst being a natural forward, Moloney said she could play anywhere if required.

“I’ve played all around the ground so I kind of know around the ground what is required of you,” she said. “But I guess when they did move me down to forward a few years ago, I think it was just like my ability to run towards, not facing the goal, running towards the ball and going for those marks and turning around and kicking the goals, that just came more natural to me and that’s where I play my best footy, creating those leads and those set shots. “But as well I enjoy playing wing, playing mid, but the forward is where I showcase my skills the most.”

Now with the AFL Women’s Draft just a sleep away, Moloney said it was hard not to focus on her football career and just how much it meant to her should her name be read out tomorrow.

“It would mean the world to me, like I’m going through studying for exams right now and as much as they say Year 12’s your whole priority, well I am thinking about this is for me, this is hopefully one of my biggest careers,” Moloney said. “I would just be so proud of myself that I’m in this position, I’m getting drafted, this is from my hard work. “It would just be a once in a lifetime opportunity and I think I’d just be extremely happy, extremely proud and ready to take on any challenges that come about.”

Shaw eyes positives after disappointing 2020 season

IT has been disappointing year for most Victorian footballers, with few getting a chance to really test themselves competitively. In most cases for the AFL Women’s Draft Combine invites they have been able to get out on the field and stake their case to be drafted in tomorrow’s 2020 AFL Women’s Draft. Unfortunately for players such as former Gippsland Power and Hawthorn VFL Women’s talent Maddi Shaw, she has not been able to get on the park due to the COVID-19 global pandemic.

Shaw is an over-age prospect who missed out on being picked up in last year’s draft, admitting she was “not ready” to make the next step up to the elite level. But with a big preseason behind her she hoped to be prepared to tackle 2020 in a huge way.

“My plan was to do really, really well in preseason,” Shaw said. “So I really worked quite hard in preseason, really wanted to better myself because I knew last year I was not ready at all. “I was like ‘this year I need to get myself ready’ and become one of those better footballers and make sure I was training really hard, and then coming into the season at my peak. “Making sure I was fitter than I’ve ever been, stronger than I’ve ever been. “But also physically and mentally ready as I’d already had that season to prepare myself and I knew what I was looking forward to.”

It was her first proper full uninterrupted preseasons and her hope to kick-start the year off in style was positive. Despite missing out on being drafted, Shaw said she did not want to look too far ahead other than to have it as a long-term goal, and rather focus on the here and now.

“(I wanted to) just make sure I had a really good preseason, as the last few preseasons I had interruptions and I went to Cambodia, not that that’s an excuse to not be fit, but just making sure I was really prepared and then going into it knowing I was playing for Hawthorn and not aiming for anything other than where I was now and doing my best on each weekend and then looking to the future as it came closer, so trying to work in the moment,” she said.

Her transition from the Power at NAB League Girls level to the VFL Women’s has been a great learning curve, with Shaw getting the opportunity to move through the pathway at local level, through interleague, as well as the elite junior competition and then state-level program.

“It was a bit intimidating at first,” Shaw said. “Walking in as a 17-year-old it was a bit scary, but I had a lot of support around me. “I feel like it was a lot easier than I anticipated. “My experience at Hawthorn’s been awesome, has been really helpful and taught me a lot. “Fitness wise and as an athlete, learning how to take care of my body and also as a footballer. “I’ve learnt so much from not only coaches, but players as well.” 

She said learning off experienced players such as Talia Radan, as well as AFL Women’s premiership coach Bec Goddard and highly respected operator and VFL Women’s premiership coach Paddy Hill, was a great experience for her development.

“You feel really at home in a way so they really help you develop and you have this relationship with them where you can trust everything that they’re saying,” Shaw said. “There’s no second guessing, I like the fact I can walk into training, get my feedback and then go to training, fix what I need to fix, come back and play as a better person. “I don’t have to chase up feedback, they’re always with you and supporting you.”

Picture: Supplied

Like many people, Shaw figured when the season was first postponed, that it would come back in some capacity, but then the disappointment set in and she was resigned to the fact that she would not be able to test herself at the level.

“When it first got postponed I assumed we would only have a few weeks off and we’d be back on track sooner or later,” Shaw said. “But that was definitely not the case, so I was very disappointed when I got there and they told us at training, because I felt like I’d done pretty well throughout preseason and I’d worked hard. “It was kind of hard, you think that that time was wasted, like it definitely wasn’t, but it was very disheartening that we weren’t able to showcase what we’d done throughout preseason. It was really disappointing, but I’m sure we’ll get another chance next year.”

Shaw has always kept a positive mindset when it comes to her football career, never losing sight of being drafted, but also keeping an eye on her present situation to try and produce the best football she can for her side.

“I’d love to get drafted, that’s definitely something I’d really, really want to do,” Shaw said. “I’d also really want to do well in the VFL. “I want to provide and be a high-level player in my team so I can always be trusted to do my job and play my role at Hawthorn and as much as individually I want to get drafted, but as a team at Hawthorn I really just want us to do well and get back to that premiership that we got in 2017, not that I was involved.”

Shaw said her greatest strength was to take on feedback and adapt to whatever role her coaches needed. In terms of on-field traits, Shaw has good athleticism and can provide run out of defence and has been particularly focused on improving her offensive side and developing from a defensive player into a utility.

The Hawks’ teenager said she had been working diligently on her fitness over the break in preparation for the 2021 VFL Women’s season, with help from Hawthorn as well as her university.

“I’ve just been trying to maintain my fitness, so obviously not trying to push myself too hard, we’re going to go into preseason and I don’t want to overwork myself, but really working on my running, keeping my legs ticking over and pushing my body in a way to maintain my readiness coming into preseason,” Shaw said. “Hopefully not get too much of a shock.”

She described 2020 as a “learning curve” and said there was always an opportunity to get drafted regardless of age. Shaw herself sets short-term goals to accompany her long-term aim of being drafted, and said whether it was being selected in the Hawks’ side, having a statistical goal or providing a particular effort for her team, she was always ticking off short-term goals.

As for evolving her game, Shaw still has plenty of belief she has what it takes to make the AFL Women’s in the future.

“I just want to become better, I just want to get drafted,” Shaw said. “That’s going to be my target and I’m going to do whatever I have to do to get there. “I’m willing to put in extra hours of training, learn new skills, I really just want to make it because I know that I can because I have the right support around me.”

Shaw is not alone when it comes to disappointment of not having a season to try and improve her form, and she said while some might be tempted to question their future in the sport, she was confident the pendulum would swing back and opportunities would arise in the future.

“I don’t think a lot of people have really turned their back on footy because we’ve missed a whole season,” Shaw said. “I’ve heard a lot of girls who have commented on like ‘maybe this isn’t for me, I’ve missed a whole year, maybe I’m not ready’. “I think a lot of people just think to try and click that reset button and try and push again and try again because there’s always going to be an opportunity that is going to come out of hard work I reckon, so making sure everyone keeps going this year as much as it’s been really hard.”

Pritchard takes opportunity into footy

IT was not so much a choice one way or another, but passionate sportsperson Isabelle Pritchard said the decision to pick up a footy and take a chance in the sport was more about opportunity than anything else. Trying her hand at just about anything growing up, and predominantly a netballer, the now Western Jets star has made the most of that opportunity that presented itself a few years ago.

“I had a go at pretty much everything to be honest,” Pritchard said. “Netball was probably my main sport. “I didn’t start that until I was about eight so I was quite young, I played that majority of my childhood, but I had a go at everything else. “I played some basketball, played indoor soccer, I did quite a bit of swimming, etc. and water polo. “I played some cricket, really everything, but netball was like the main thing for me.”

“I think for me it was sort of just, it wasn’t so much a decision it was sort of just the opportunity presented itself in football and I took it, I wasn’t so much weighing up the options of the netball path or football path. It was here’s the path for football, I love football, let’s play football.”

Pritchard said she would consider going back to netball later in life as she loved the sport, but knows the growth in women’s football has been too big to ignore and something she really loved to be a part of.

“Coming from playing netball, it’s quite restricted in terms of where you can run,” Pritchard said. “I loved the freedom of footy being able to go wherever and you’re not controlled by lines on the court or anything like that. “I think I enjoy the physicality as well, being able to get in there, get under the pack and win the ball out for your team is something I really enjoy.”

Pritchard lists her strengths as her ability to win one-on-one contests, as well as the contested ball. The latter of which she only realised after a role switch at the Jets this year saw the traditional intercept marker move from half-back into the middle.

“I really enjoyed it (midfield move) because it gave me an opportunity to be a bit more proactive instead of reactive I suppose,” Pritchard said. “As a defender you’re sort of anticipating where the ball’s going to come in and try and stop them from getting a goal, whereas in the mid your role is to get it forward to try and get a goal.

“I think I really enjoyed that aspect of it, but at the same time I think even when I was playing I still had quite a defensive role, I tended to stay towards the back as that backstop position which I think was good because it gave me an opportunity to translate the things that I learnt in backline into the midfield.”

Rewinding back to the start of her footy journey just a few years ago, Pritchard first tasted football at school as part of a round robin tournament and it instigated a move to sign up for Spotswood, her local football club.

“I signed up just for a bit of fun and started playing and I really enjoyed the day (at school) so then I began playing at a local team starting up at Spotswood, so I began playing there with a few of my friends,” Pritchard said. “I just fell in love with it, kept playing and I was lucky enough to get into the Western Jets that first year and I’ve played there since then.”

Her rise through the pathway was quick but she adapted, though not without plenty of nerves along the way, becoming a regular standout in the Jets’ side.

 “It was scary especially because Western Jets were such a relatively new team,” Pritchard said. “I think the first year I did it was the first year that the Western Jets was actually a standalone Western Jets. “I think it was a bit encouraging because we were all finding out, learning to play, so that was good. “It was scary, I didn’t really know what I was doing, but just tried to hold my weight.”

Hold her weight she did, having grown up supporting the Western Bulldogs with her family, and her twin brother playing football “since he could basically walk”, the game was hardly foreign for her. As a red, white and blue supporter, it was somewhat fitting that running out for Vic Metro as a middle-ager last season, Pritchard was coached by Nathan Burke who would go on to earn the top job at the Western Bulldogs later that year.

“I was incredibly lucky to play as a bottom-ager in the Vic Metro against some of the most talented players in Australia. It was such a great learning opportunity I think as well being able to work, being coached by Nathan Burke was amazing.

“He and also in the under 16s getting coached by Mel Hickey. “It’s so much knowledge that I was able to soak up and learn from their experience, their wisdom and they’re all great coaches. “Also being surrounded by a lot of players who had played a bit longer than me, but also just getting their help on the field and trying to learn from their experiences. “It’s just good being able to learn from such experienced people in such an experienced environment.”

Not only has Pritchard featured through the Vic Metro program, but has been a member of the AFL Women’s National Academy for a couple of years, something that took a while to adjust to due to a foreign exchange clash.

“I went on exchange when I was 16 for three months to France. “I actually found out that I’d got into the Academy while I was away,” Pritchard said. “I was in France and it was just before the summer that I found out and then I missed the first camp because I was away, and then I went on the second one. “It was a bit scary because everyone knew each other already and then when I went away on the second camp, I was trying to meet everyone, I was trying to get involved, find my place.

“But it was really good, and Aasta (O’Connor, AFLW Academy coach) was such a great role model and such a good coach,” she said. “It was amazing to learn from her, and also just be around such amazing talented players and some of those players ended up being my best friends, so it was really great just to be able to go away and spend some time around so much knowledge and talent and be able to try and learn as much as I can from them as well.”

Over her journey, Pritchard has been particularly looking to improve her skills and her athleticism, with the off-season of late giving her an opportunity to fine tune her fitness and speed. Someone who has always been there for the defender/midfielder is her father who she admits has been her role model throughout her childhood.

“He played football growing up as well, so he’s very passionate about it but I love it because he’s not overbearing,” Pritchard said. “When I want help from him I can ask and he’ll give it to me, but he never forces his opinion on me which I really value and I think his opinion is the most important to me, and whenever I need help I go and ask him what he thinks and he always comes up with something wise, so he’s probably been my biggest inspiration, my biggest role model.

“My brother has played footy since he was a kid and I guess that’s what sparked my intrigue into the game,” she said. “He’s always been so hard-working and humble, not just at footy but at everything he does. “My whole life I’ve just been trying to be as good a person as he is.”

Now with the AFL Women’s Draft looming large tomorrow, Pritchard said the goal for her was to just keep on improving to be the best she could be. Whilst being drafted would be a “huge goal” and an “amazing opportunity”, Pritchard said she would not stop aiming to always improve on herself.

“I mean it’s kind of crazy to think about that four years ago when I started playing I didn’t think that I would be here nominating for the draft, hoping that I would get drafted,” Pritchard said. “But it’s really exciting because it’s a huge opportunity that’s presented itself and the idea of it’s really scary. “I didn’t even know women’s football existed five years ago so it’s crazy, it’s overwhelming, but it’s also incredibly exciting and I can’t wait for the future to see what happens. “Obviously even if I don’t get drafted, I’m just excited to keep playing and keep improving.”

Hard-working Barber ready to transition to elite level

IT was all or nothing for Murray Bushrangers’ Olivia Barber who took the chance on a fledgling Australian Rules football career at the start of last year compared to her tried and trusted basketball one. Whilst Barber was tracking superbly for the Bushrangers and played for Vic Country at Under 16s level, she had already achieved that feat with basketball and more, having only completed a full year of football at the age of 16.

“I played basketball for New South Wales Country for a while for four years and then I was also training with the Australian team for that, and then I started playing footy when I was 16,” Barber said. “How footy started for me was I got asked to play footy at school one day and I got approached by some staff members from the Murray Bushrangers and I went and had some training sessions with them, and then I got into the team and I’ve played for the Murray Bushrangers for two and a half years.”

While it might sound like a familiar set of circumstances, Barber was forced to make a tough choice, told to fully commit to her National Basketball League (NBL)1 side. While Barber enjoyed the sport that had taken her to the national level, football was something that was more flexible and was taking her focus away.

“Last year I had to make a decision on whether I wanted to only play basketball or footy, because basketball just didn’t allow me to play both sports because of how successful it was and the commitments they wanted from me. “So it came down to a decision of what I loved more and that was footy so I ended up giving basketball away in March last year.”

Despite the sports only crossing over for a short time period, and Barber unable to deny her chance at representing the Bushrangers, she made her choice. Barber left her basketball and “hasn’t gone back playing basketball since”.

The Barnawartha local is in an equally unique situation, living on the Victorian side of the border, but going to school in New South Wales. It means the equally unique situation of representing Vic Country at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, but playing in the New South Wales All-Schools tournament.

Living in country Victoria and representing New South Wales as well, Barber has always had plenty of travelling commitments, admitting she travelled to places such as Newcastle, Wollongong, Penrith and Sydney most weekends, and that made her school-sport life balance difficult. Football became an outlet for Barber who said she loved the physical nature of the game and how aggressive everyone on the field can be.

“I like going out on the field and being free to play,” Barber said. “Having your own game but you’re also sharing the field with 17 other teammates. “I just prefer the sport over everything else. “It’s just a game that I really love and I always turn up with a smile on my face at training or playing on game day.”

As an incredible contested mark, Barber said she was hoping to build up her endurance, doing plenty of running over the break to help with that, whilst treating the time off as a way to knuckle down on her studies being in her final year of high school. While it has given her a chance to focus on her schooling, she admitted it was devastating to have the season called off after sustaining a head knock in Round 1 this year and being ruled out of the Bushrangers’ other game.

“I was pretty devastated because I also only got to play the one game because of my head knock at the start of the year,” Barber said. “I think going into the year as a top-age player I was ready to dominate. “I was very excited, but nervous and obviously my national carnival year last year I played pretty good but I thought this year was going to be my year where I could dominate because I worked so hard in the preseason leading up to the round and unfortunately I only got to play the one game.”

Barber stood out last year at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, having a real impact up forward for Vic Country as a middle-ager and earning All-Australian honours. When asked if the first game where she kicked multiple goals on Metricon Stadium was a confidence booster, she said to some degree.

“Yeah it was, but leading up to that first game I wasn’t really prepared as in I didn’t train the last couple of training sessions because of my knee, so I didn’t know how I was going to go,” Barber said. “I think goals they can say a lot, but then individually for me they don’t say much, because if I didn’t do the work to get the goal, then the goal doesn’t really matter to me. “It’s the overall game for me and how I play overall, not just the four goals that I kicked.”

Barber has been a member of the AFL Women’s Academy for a couple of years now as both a middle-ager and top-ager, which she describes as a “game changer”.

“It made me realise how professional the sport was, and how determined and committed I was to actually succeed in the sport,” Barber said. “It really helped me out a lot in my first year.”

As for someone who has been there for her throughout her sporting journey and providing her with support, it was easy to pick out an inspiration close to home.

“My dad’s been there since day one helping me out with everything and anything along my journey,” Barber said. “He’s always been my biggest inspiration and my hero. “He does everything for  me and he never lets me down and I thank him for a lot.”

Now with the AFL Women’s Draft just a couple of days away, Barber said it would be a massive honour to reach the top level, but she would also not suddenly stop the moment she got into the system, with an eye on always improving no matter what.

“It would honestly mean the world to me because everything I’ve done over the years, I’ve pushed myself so hard to get to the level as high as the AFLW and I think getting drafted would just mean so much to me,” she said. “Although the work isn’t paid off when I do get drafted, I will get a chance to work hard. “If I do get drafted, I will get a chance to work even harder and pay off all the work I’ve done in previous years.”

Strahan takes inspiration from ‘The Bont’

A TALENTED state representative in basketball, Bendigo Pioneers’ Annabel Strahan has a goal of following in the footsteps of the footballer she loves to watch the most – Marcus Bontempelli. Despite being a Blues’ fan, Strahan said she can draw similarities in their journeys and hopes that she can emulate his efforts in the AFL Women’s.

“He also played a bit of basketball when he was younger and I think I see that through similarities in the way that he plays the way that I’ve transitioned too,” Strahan said. “I love how he’s one of the best users of the ball on both sides and I think that makes him really unpredictable and really versatile wherever he plays. “I hope to do that as I get more into my footy journey.”

“In terms of the girls, I think as a local person to use would be Kerryn Harrington who played for Spirit when I played (basketball) at Bendigo,” she said. “I think being able to watch her transition from basketball to footy and how she’s just been so good in both of those has been a good inspiration and good idol to use to see that you can transition and play both sports.”

As Strahan eluded to, she has had quite the journey, beginning in basketball until a couple of years ago where she took the chance on playing footy with the Pioneers.

“I moved to Bendigo two years ago which is when my footy journey started,” Strahan said. “I had been playing basketball. “Did that through the Vic Country program, played up for Bendigo. “Then I wasn’t kind of enjoying things so I wanted to try out footy and see if I would enjoy it and I absolutely loved it. “Loved it from the moment I played local footy. “Then I got invited to Pios the year after and just kind of kept going I guess.”

The attraction to football came from the increased team environment, with 18 players on the field compared to five on the basketball court. Similarly, Strahan said football was good at gradually bringing you into the system and getting the fundamentals right without demanding too much once you got to the elite junior level.

“I think the thing with basketball and the whole program where it was really intense really early on,” she said. “I felt like it was really professional from a young age and it kind of felt like I had nothing left to give for it and wasn’t really enjoying how it wasn’t really a team sport anymore and more focused on sole players. “But footy I found is much more focused on that team mentality and you’ve got to use everyone on the team, there’s not just one star team. “I like how it’s more valuing for each player on the team.”

Predominantly a midfielder in her short career, Strahan had a role change at the start of this year, moving to half-back where she thrived and said she would love to have a go at more positions around the field.

“I really enjoyed that and I think that I’d love to enjoy playing in more positions and obviously haven’t played enough to play most positions, but I think coming off the backline I really enjoyed that and I think being able to shift through multiple positions is really a good aspect for the game and for my versatility,” she said. “I think for the moment I’d say I’m enjoying the backline a lot but I’m open to being switched about wherever.”

Strahan said her clean hands and groundballs were among her best attributes on the footy field, crediting basketball with her skill. She also said she was looking to gain greater strength, adding 10kg since last season in a bid to become more of a “tackling threat”.

“I think I’ve transitioned really well and stands out in my game,” Strahan said. “With that I think my footwork which you spend so much time working on around packs, I’m really good at getting out of that. “I think the biggest attributes that I’m proud of are my decision making and my composure around the footy with the ball which I think comes from playing point guard and those decision making roles with basketball.

“I think that’s (strength) definitely something I want to improve on is just be stronger around the ball and a bit more of a tackling threat,” she said. “Also with my height, being more intercept marking, I’m more of a threat in the air by taking some good marks.”

While the Pioneers midfielder might have grown up playing basketball, her love to football has always been there, as a member of a “rabid” footy following family.

“Yeah my dad and my brother and that side of my family has grown up with rabid followers of footy, all Carlton supporters through and through,” Strahan said. “I used to go to the footy all the time when I was younger, and I still love it now. I think it was always something that I followed, but obviously since I’ve started playing I’ve got a bit more into following it. “It’s definitely been a big part of me growing up.”

Strahan’s favourite memory was winning a flag on her birthday last year with Golden Square which was all the more memorable having lost to their opponents the year before. In terms of her NAB League career, her debut game against Murray Bushrangers was one of her favourites and personal best games she played.

Unfortunately for the top-ager, her season came to an abrupt end just as she was hoping to get going, which made it tough for her to believe the AFL Women’s was still a possibility. She said the announcement the season had been postponed and eventually called off was not a shock, but still a disappointment.

“I think at that stage we were all kind of expecting it I guess,” she said. “Everything was being cancelled but it was still up in the air and we were like ‘hopefully we’ll be able to come back and play’ so that was still in the back of our minds, we’ve just got to keep going on and training. “As it got further and further along it was kind of inevitable that it was going to get cancelled but I think the main thing was just being upset because I hadn’t played much footy so I thought ‘god no, it’s only three games not enough for me to get through with that’ but I guess footy just shows that people are always watching and so I think the biggest thing is just staying focused on that.”

“There’s lots of things to distract you from it but the easiest thing for me was just talking to my other teammates and just focusing on that if it does come back how we will get ready for that.”

Strahan said during the off-season she had tried to continue bulking up on her strength and conditioning by bringing some gym equipment home from her local gym to help with her goals. As for her skills, she said her mum would often head down to the local oval with her, but conceded that it was probably not the standard of teammate she was used to.

“In terms of footy, things were a bit more difficult,” Strahan said. “I had to go down to the local oval with my mum who doesn’t know how to play footy very well so I was getting kicks that were going everywhere but it really worked on my conditioning in a way that I hadn’t done before so that was quite an experience for me. “It’s just been like going down with my family and doing running on your own which is a bit harder than with the team. Just trying to stay focused and driven.”

Strahan thanked all those who had helped her along the way from her coach at Golden Square to her strength and conditioning coach and all her friends and family who had been so supportive of her journey.

“I think looking at those people you realise how important they are along the journey and how you couldn’t have got there without them,” Strahan said. “I think that footy’s just great in giving you all those people to rely on, but also to help you and push you to be the best player you can be.”

Now Strahan is edging towards achieving her goal after receiving an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitation earlier in the month, something that she was a little surprised about considering her lack of on-field time.

“Yeah I think, not to sound like I’m not confident in myself, but only having not even finished my full season last season and I didn’t get to do the nationals, I just thought that I didn’t have enough of a resume for footy so to get that call-up was pretty crazy for me,” Strahan said. “I didn’t really think it was in my options but it just happened and things kept on happening which was pretty wicked.”

Now she knows exactly how far she wants to take her football with that chance of making the elite level in her sights.

“I think the whole thing for me is how much I’ve enjoyed footy and just looking ahead, you want to get drafted because you want to keep playing the sport that you absolutely love and that goes into you want to progress as a player and if I get to go into the AFLW, you get to play with the best players and you get to progress your footy that way and get to play with the best players there,” Strahan said. “So I think it would just be that building myself into the best player I can be and learning from all those star players who are in the AFLW.”

As for what it would mean to get drafted, Strahan said it would be “absolutely crazy”.

“I feel like every week in the past month has just been crazy and exploding for me,” Strahan said. “But I think it would just be very rewarding coming from basketball where things weren’t amazing, but footy I’ve just found has been so enjoyable and everyone has been so supportive, it’s just such a good environment.

“I think it would be really rewarding and also really exciting in terms of getting something to look forward to and really work hard on because the opportunity would just be amazing.”

Remmos hoping to follow Conti’s lead as a dual elite-level sportstar

CARLY Remmos has come a long way in a short season, going from basketball convert to AFL Women’s Draft Combine invitee off the back of just of a couple of games. The Geelong Supercats National Basketball League (NBL)1 player averaged 15 disposals, five tackles and kicked a goal from her two games in the 2020 NAB League Girls season after deciding to “give it a crack”.

“I was trying something different because basketball has just basically been what I’ve been doing my whole life nearly, and then nearly a bunch of my friends were like ‘why don’t we play school footy?’ and I was like ‘oh yeah I’d be down’ and went and played and I guess I just loved the contact in it,” Remmos said. “It was a lot more contact than basketball so that was enjoyable. “But it was mainly just to have a bit of fun with schoolmates and that was about it, but I enjoyed it, so thought I’d give it a crack in the long run.”

Both her NAB League Girls and NBL1 seasons were cancelled due to COVID-19, but Remmos was hoping to juggle both for as long as she could, if she could. While she admitted it would depend on both codes and the clubs she played for, Remmos’ hope was to follow in the footsteps of Tiger Monique Conti.

“I’m not really sure (what I’ll do), it just depends who footy takes it if I was lucky enough to get drafted,” Remmos said. “It really depends on their (team that drafts me) take on the whole basketball thing. “If I have to, I’d probably just stick in the footy path, but basically it depends on what the clubs are comfortable with, both basketball and footy, and then just really go from there to be honest.”

“Monique Conti’s one that I have always been like, she does both. WNBL and AFLW so it is possible to do both, it just depends,” Remmos said. “It’s different for every person, but I’d definitely like to go down that path.”

While her football journey is a relatively new one, Remmos is no stranger to the basketball court.

“I started basketball when I was about six,” the Geelong Falcons midfielder said. “I’ve been playing ever since and gone through the Vic Country pathway and gone to Nationals for basketball and all of that sort of stuff. “Then last year I played school footy and I had a go at that and found that so much fun, I found it awesome.”

“Then I went down to Falcons, did preseason and then it was more just a bit ‘oh I’ll have a bit of fun, if it works it works, if it doesn’t it doesn’t’. “It took off and then played the first two games then obviously COVID. “That’s about it. I only started footy in the last year.”

While she does not have a great body of work to go off, Remmos said she felt like her attack on the ball – being a taller player – and her tackling were amongst her strengths. She has no fear in winning the ball and getting it out to her teammates, whilst it is just that polish when in space by foot that she is looking to develop.

“I am very new to the game so I have been working on my kicking a fair bit,” Remmos said. “That’s still got a bit of improvement, but I’ve definitely improved in that area, but just my general skills. “My handballs are pretty good and my groundballs, so it’s mostly just working on my kicking a bit more to get that a bit more on point on both feet.”

Crossing from basketball, Remmos soon found her place training with the midfielders after not knowing if she would even make the final cut. Having the fitness from basketball to match it with her experienced teammates, she was thrown into the midfield. Whilst it was partially because of her fitness, Remmos also joked that the coaching staff could not trust her to hold a line up either end.

“Before the season I knew I was going to be in the midfield,” Remmos said. “I’ll be honest, the structure of forward and back, I don’t think they (coaching staff) were prepared to put me in there yet because it was a bit more complicated than midfield, where you just run around a bit more, see ball, get ball type of thing.”

Remmos’ favourite football memory was her first official game, where she enjoyed a win against Gippsland Power and kicked her first-ever goal.

“I think just my first official game of footy and kicking my first goal, that was pretty cool,” she said. “More just being around the girls for our first game and our win, that was pretty good. “Being new to the environment and sussing it all out and getting to know the girls in a big group is a lot different. “There’s a lot more support and it’s a lot bigger, so there’s a lot more fun in it I think.”

While Remmos was not expecting to develop to the point of receiving a combine invite – she was surprised by the interest – she had a feeling it was coming once she received contact from an AFL Women’s club.

“I was quite surprised,” Remmos said. “Even when I got an email a club wanted to contact me, I was like ‘what’s going on there? that’s very surprising’. “But the combine wasn’t a huge shock, I wasn’t expecting that because I was so new, but it was really good to get the invite.”

Now she is a chance to make it to the elite level in the AFL Women’s. If she hears her name called out on draft night next Tuesday, Remmos said it would be “absolutely awesome”.

“At the start of the year … my eyes weren’t set on getting drafted because I was so new and I didn’t think I had much of a shot,” Remmos said. “But once it got towards the business end as you could call it I guess, I think being in elite sport when I was playing at Nationals, I just thrived in that environment, it was so fun. “Getting drafted would be awesome, just being able in that elite environment with a big bunch of girls. “It would mean a lot, just hard work paid off if I was to get drafted.”

Glimpses enough to show O’Loughlin’s talent

TWO games, two rare accolades. The journey of Alice O’Loughlin is one that is certainly unique in the sense that she has only played two matches in three years at the Oakleigh Chargers, due to other sporting commitments and injury. When she looks back on it, she considers it a remarkable feat to have played one game and then made the Under 16s Vic Metro squad, then only added one more game this year to earn an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite.

“I’ve been very fortunate to be able to get those opportunities with the very limited game time they’ve seen me play,” O’Loughlin said. “Especially given this season I was hoping to string a few games together and really create a name myself, and get myself out there but I am very fortunate of what I’ve got to do with only two games.”

O’Loughlin has never been far from a sport whether it be a round ball or even oar, which has taken up a lot of her teenage years. After just the one bottom-age game in 2018, last year was meant to be a big year for the middle-ager, but her season was wiped out by an ankle injury. Fast forward to 2020 and after playing the first game, missed the second due to rowing commitments and then the season was postponed.

“I’ve always loved all my sports as long as I can remember so I’ve tried to get my hands on all sports whether it’s basketball, netball, rowing and school sports,” O’Loughlin said. “That means I’ve had to juggle footy with all of them so I haven’t really given footy my biggest footy. “But I’ve loved it, it’s always been my favourite sport and essentially once the pathway I was really excited to see where I could take it.

“Having all those sports, I never really got to play that many games,” she said. “Especially for Oakleigh, because I’ve been in the Oakleigh program for three years or four years. I’ve only ended up playing two games, which I probably would have liked to have changed that but I suppose we can’t now.”

Having played at Kew Comets since she was eight-years-old, O’Loughlin has been lucky enough to play football her whole life, it has just been one of a number of sports that she has juggled with a full platter throughout her journey. She cites the creativity of the game and playing with mates as some of the main attributes that attracted her to Aussie rules in the first place, “everyone working together to win games and thus winning a premiership”.

Having not played for the Chargers in two years, O’Loughlin was pleased to run out in Wangaratta against the Murray Bushrangers back in Round 1 where she booted three goals in a big win.

“I was really excited because I had an ankle injury the previous season so that knocked me out of the whole season,” O’Loughlin said. “Then so I was just really excited to get a few games together but that obviously got cut short because of COVID. “I was really excited to just go out there and just have fun with it. “It was really good game and good to get the win.”

Her experience with Vic Metro was a fond one, and whilst overwhelming considering others had played more games at the level, she thoroughly enjoyed it.

“It was really good opportunity to play alongside the best talent. But yeah it was a great experience for me,” O’Loughlin said. “I must admit I was a bit nervous, and I suppose coming into a new environment I did get a bit nervous and I would have liked to have played a lot better in the Vic game, but it was just a great learning experience.”

While rowing had caused her to miss a number of football commitments – including the Chargers’ trip down to Tasmania for the Devils’ first ever home game – O’Loughlin said it had helped her over the journey.

“It really helped me with my fitness in footy,” she said. “I’ve always tried to balance the two but then after my ankle injury the main reason why I did rowing to gain fitness up again and that strength. “Then transferred that over into footy but then didn’t get the chance to.”

As someone who knew she needed a full season to prove herself, O’Loughlin said she was “devastated” when presented with the news that the season had been called off.

“I banked on having a good season and stringing a few games together,” she said. “I was pretty devastated and didn’t really know what to think at the time but I mean there’s nothing you can really do about it at the time but perform when you get the opportunity too.”

O’Loughlin’s strengths include her skills and reading of the play, which has developed over a decade of playing footy, even if it has not been at NAB League level. Her main goal at the moment is landing on an AFL Women’s list in next week’s draft and hoping to build her game further in an elite environment.

“It would be amazing just to get the opportunity to be put in a professional environment and just to have a preseason because I’ve never really got to have a full footy preseason, or full footy season so really seeing where I can take my skills when I have a full season under my belt,” O’Loughlin said.

Lin fast to transition into football

JOANNA Lin was not convinced about starting competitive Australian rules football at first, despite a friend referring her to it back in Year 10. While the future Oakleigh Chargers’ talent enjoyed playing it during her school breaks at recess and lunch, it took a little while – and some extra prodding from her friend – for her to take the plunge and join her local club, Bulleen-Templestowe. When her friend first asked her to come join, it was more of a “maybe” and put it on the backburner.

“I was like ‘oh yeah’, I’ve played a bit in primary at recess and lunch and I always thought about playing it, but girls could only play up to a certain age, I didn’t really pursue it,” Lin said. “Then she was like ‘you should come to one of our trainings and see how that goes’. “I was like ‘oh maybe’ then as time went by, the plans you make with your friends but don’t end up happening.

“I didn’t really think much of it until recess and lunch, she came up to me and said ‘hey I mentioned to the team manager about you and they asked if you could come’ and I was like ‘oh woah that’s sick’. “Then I showed up for my first training at the club and that was just a really good environment. “I decided to play and went from there.”

It turned out to be a wise decision as Lin quickly caught onto the sport and described Oakleigh as “one big family” and definitely a step up from local football. As an outside running player, Lin has been thrown around in a few positions during her career.

“At local I played mainly half-forward so it was always going up the field and also considered through the midfield rotation as well,” Lin said. “I really enjoyed the running aspect, being able to run off players and just run down the field.”

Last year was Lin’s first season with the Chargers, and as a middle-ager, she was coming in with less experience than many others. Despite her lack of experience, she put together a terrific season culminating in her polling the most votes for her side at the NAB League Best and Fairest night and making Team of the Year.

“That was insane,” Lin said. “I was just playing how I played and so when it came to the night, I was just kind of confused what I was doing there because there were so many girls there that were really much better and everything so I was very confused. “But I was really grateful when I saw the votes and I was like ‘oh wow’ and I was the top one for Oakleigh. “It was really weird but very grateful for it.”

Not only has Lin been able to transition from one school footy into elite junior footy, but it is transitioning from one part of the ground to the other that really stands out.

“I think my strengths are probably the transition through the backline to the forward line because I’m kind of like on the wing,” Lin said. “The kick out, best position to kick to, that’s probably my best strength, in transition.”

Right now Lin is aiming to build her strength to impact more in aerial contests, because she said to become a better player she has to “compete better in the one-on-ones”. While her season was cut short this year, Lin has had plenty of favourite football memories, including the three-peat she won at her local club.

“It was really good to win three premierships in a row with those girls there and just the same (like Oakleigh) it’s like a family there, it’s probably my favourite memory,” Lin said.

After a huge first season, Lin earned a spot in the AFL Women’s National Academy, something she has cherished and was certainly not expecting when she was told last year.

“It was crazy because I got the email after my exam last year for maths,” Lin said. “I was kind of down because I didn’t go as well as I thought I’d go (in the exam). “Then I got the email for it and I was like ‘woah what is this?’ and I was with some of my mates and they were celebrating and I was in shock.

Being invited to that, it’s been very helpful,” she said. “It’s been a great experience, been able to meet the other girls who are pushing to get drafted this year and become really close to them. “That has been a really good part of my career so far.”

Lin draws inspiration from those very teammates who help her become a better player and in return she tries to do the same as she strives to get to the highest level she can, whether it be the AFL Women’s or VFL Women’s, just making the most out of her footballing journey.

“I don’t know if this sounds a bit cliche but probably the people around me like my teammates (are my inspiration),” she said. “Watching them work on their skills and become a better player themselves, it pushes me inside to become a better player and I can help the team more as well.”

As for what being drafted next week would mean, Lin knows it would be something special for her in what has been such a promising journey thus far.

“It would mean a lot,” Lin said. “It would be like a lot of the effort and hard work that I’ve put into my footy throughout all these years has helped.”

Versatile Hill a natural leader

TWO-time NAB League Girls captain Mimi Hill has been a mentor at the Oakleigh Chargers over the past couple of seasons and it is easy to see why. At first she was daunted at the prospect of leading girls that were a couple of years older than her, but she settled into the role and now thrives from the task at lifting the team around her.

“The first year when I was captain, last year, I think I was 16,” she said. “I was like, ‘what is going on?’ “I was just not expecting it at all, and that was quite intimidating getting to captain older girls potentially three years older than me. “But it was also really exciting and a great opportunity to develop my leadership skills and also develop me as a footy player, because instead of like being really hard on myself in the games and getting down on the little things, mistakes I’ve made, it made me refocused on the team, and I think that developed my footy ability.

“Instead of being really hard on myself, I channelled that energy into making sure the team is on track. “If I’m having a bad game, it doesn’t matter. “I’ve still got to focus on that control like everything’s going to be alright.”

After fitting into the role as a middle-ager in 2019, Hill was named captain in her top-age year once again, and she certainly felt more comfortable from the get-go. Not only looking to build on-field performance, but lift everything she could off-field, the Chargers’ leader was “excited” about the 2020 possibilities.

“I was really excited because obviously I had that experience from last year, and it was a much younger team and less experienced team (this year),” Hill said. “I was really excited to develop a really good culture at the club, and I think we achieved that just looking at the results and also the relationships that everyone made at the club.”

Hill came runner-up in the 2019 best and fairest last year, but for her while accolades are a great honour, it is about leading from the front and doing anything she can to get her team over the line on matchday.

“Just because I value that really highly and I think it shows that you do put in each week,” Hill said.

Hill’s journey through football has been one of relative recent times, starting up when she hit high school.

“Pretty much I just kicked in the park with Dad and my siblings since I was really little, I never really did Auskick or anything,” Hill said. “Then when I got to Year 7 and a new school, I played a game of footy in class and the teacher afterwards was like you should definitely be looking to join the club team.

“I went home straight away was like, ‘Dad can you please sign me up for footy?’ He didn’t think at the time there was a girls team, but obviously everything was up and running at that point. “So he got me into local team Kew Comets and I played my first game of footy. “I was like, ‘this is actually the best sport ever’ and I basically stopped most of my other sports and just stuck to footy.”

After her first season with Kew Comets, Hill was already showing promise as a future footballing talent. The next season she was invited to join Oakleigh Chargers’ Under 15s which she said was really good because they helped develop her skills whilst she was playing within the school team. Four years later and Hill is a Vic Metro representative at Under 16s and Under 18s level, and earned an AFL Women’s Draft Combine invite.

While Hill missed out on going up to Queensland last year as a middle-ager due to the enormous amount of top-age talent on the list, she enjoyed running out against Vic Country at Werribee, having also pulled on the ‘Big V’ a year earlier at GMHBA Stadium at the Under 16s Championships.

“Vic Metro games are probably my favourite,” Hill said. “They have been my favourite games since I started playing footy just because I really enjoy stepping up like the standard. “I think that I’m able to lift with the standard and it improves my footy as well. “I just love meeting all the new people from different regions and just so great and obviously footy just brings together so many amazing people like-minded people. “It’s so great to get to meet all these new girls.”

While disappointed to miss out on going to the Gold Coast for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, Hill received an invite to the AFL Women’s National Academy, something she was thrilled about and believed her Metro coach and current Western Bulldogs AFL Women’s coach, Nathan Burke might have had something to do with.

“I was just really excited that, like my hard work had paid off,” Hill said. “Nathan Burke actually mentioned after Vic Metro that he would put a good word in for me, which I wasn’t sure if that was just something he said. “But he held his word, so it was really exciting. “It just meant another trip where I could develop my footy and meet new people to. “It’s so great.”

Hill has always had a team focus, so it is no surprise that the talented top-ager looks back on her time at the Chargers from a team perspective. From struggling in the early days, to narrowly missing out on finals, to starting in a blaze of glory this year, Hill has been a key member of the transformation at the club.

“I think our first game from I think it was when I was in the Under 16s,” Hill said. “That was the first season. “So I wasn’t playing in the main team and I’m not sure they won any games that season. “Then my first game for the Under 18s team, we beat Gippsland by quite a bit, which is exciting, but then we didn’t had many wins after that.

“I think we’ve always had that good potential. We’ve always had good players. “We just weren’t gelling as a team. “But then last year, we got even better. “Girls have been around for a while, so lots of experience and (it was) very disappointing missing out on the finals. “We lost some games we shouldn’t have, and overall it was a pretty good season.”

Hill said the highlight of the 2019 season was being the only side to take points off the undefeated Northern Knights who went onto win the flag.

“The highlight was probably drawing with the Northern Knights because they were actually a powerhouse team in the competition,” Hill said. “We actually had the potential, but then this year we definitely like ‘well, there was quite a lot of new girls and younger girls’. “There was a great culture at the club. “It was just really exciting to see what we could do and it was so disappointing the end of the season (to miss out on finals).

One game in particularly that sticks out in Hill’s mind was the Chargers’ heartbreaking one-point loss to Greater Western Victoria (GWV) Rebels in the penultimate round. Just needing to win their last two games, the Chargers were strong favourites against the one-win Rebels, but in a tight contest all day the Rebels kicked a late major to cause a boilover. While Oakleigh won its last game of the season, it allowed Calder Cannons and Eastern Ranges to take the final two spots with the Knights and reigning premiers Geelong Falcons and Oakleigh finished fifth.

“That’s probably the game I’m thinking about the most, very disappointing, but I think it just kind of opened our eyes up as a team,” Hill said, looking at the positives. “We should have won it. “We were just disappointed in ourselves because we knew we had more to give. “We beat (grand finalists) Calder in the year and came close to beating (premiers) Northern. “So we felt like we deserved to be there. “But then obviously didn’t. “In the end, we didn’t deserve to be there.”

Putting the disappointment behind her Hill was determined to have a big 2020 and there were few bigger starts to the season with Oakleigh cruising to a back-to-back thrashings over a couple of younger sides in Murray Bushrangers and Tasmania Devils prior to the season being postponed.

“It was so exciting,” Hill said. “I was just, I’m looking at the team and the relationships we’d built already. “The wins we’d put on put on the board, it was so exciting for the year to come because I’ve really thought that this was the year that Oakleigh would make an impact on on the finals. “And potentially, I mean, it was a bit early in the season, but I thought we could win the premiership. “But I also didn’t want to let the girls get ahead of themselves or myself as well, because it was very early in the season.”

While the team has always been her main focus, you do not make Vic Metro and the AFL Women’s Academy without some serious talent. Hill rates her running ability and cleanliness at ground level amongst her best traits, as well as her decision making with ball-in-hand. Still lightly built compared to other players, Hill was focused on building greater body strength and improving her tackling numbers – something she concedes she could not do due to social distancing – but improve the former through gym work.

Hill is a natural midfielder, but can play inside, outside, half-back or half-forward if she needed to, predominantly sitting at half-back and using her run to advantage, then moving through the middle when required.

“I’m really happy playing anywhere,” Hill said. “Last year, Luke (O’Shannessy, head coach) from Oakleigh said, ‘We’re going to put you on the backline just to give you another area of strength, then that’s good for the draft’. “That was kind of fun learning that new position and I do enjoy getting some running power, getting some running from the backline. “Midfield is probably my favourite position, I like roving the ball, getting in down under as well.”

Hill has grown up a Hawthorn supporter and idolises Sam Mitchell who she draws comparisons to through her own game.

“I feel like I have a similar body type that quite smaller midfielder,” Hill said. “His ability to kick on both feet, it’s just always amazed me, and I think whenever dad and I kicked the footy with each other, if one of us does a really good left foot kick we say ‘oh that’s a Sammy Mitchell’, just he’s just a a legend of the game.”

Focused on the present and what she can achieve, Hill said it would be “so exciting” to hear her name read out at next week’s AFL Women’s Draft. Whilst it might not be for the brown and gold she has grown up supporting, she is just keen to earn a place and where she can meet new people and improve her football further.

“If I got the chance to play next year, it’s just so good,” Hill said. “I just feel like I can belong at that level. “I want to show people that I’m good enough to be there.”