“It’s like a little family”: Kings’ footy factory produces four AFLW Draftees

By Ant Wingard    @AntWingard

Coorparoo have once again proved why they are south east Queensland’s own football factory after the Brisbane-based club produced four draftees at Tuesday’s 2018 NAB AFL Women’s Draft in Victoria.

The Kings were responsible for half of the players selected by the Brisbane Lions at the draft including the Lions’ first choice in the draft, Paige Parker, who was taken ninth overall.

Parker, who was chosen with the ninth overall pick, has honed her craft at Giffin Oval for the previous two seasons after crossing over from Zillmere at the end of 2016.

The running defender has been a train-on player with the Lions but was never gifted the opportunity to progress to AFLW level until now.

Instead, Parker continued to develop and persevere with the Kings, who in 2018 made their second straight Grand Final in the QAFLW – Queensland’s premier senior female competition.

The 23-year-old joins Tori Groves-Little (pick 56), Jesse Wardlaw (pick 61) and Jade Ellenger (draft compensation selection) as the quartet of Kings who earned promotion to AFLW level at the draft.

Ellenger, who was the final of the group to be called out at the draft, sang nothing but praise for the club that has helped propel her from final minute inclusion in the 2017 Queensland side to a 2018 Brisbane Lions draftee.

“All of the coaches really helped me find where I belong I guess. I couldn’t have asked for a better team honestly, it’s like a little family over there,” Ellenger told aflq.com.au.

“I can’t believe all four of us got picked up. It just shows that we are a really strong club.”

The 18-year-old began playing football just five years ago at school level, but soon found a niche with the Kings where she cemented herself in their QAFLW side this season.

Coorparoo’s Paige Parker was the Brisbane Lions’ first pick in the draft.

It was there that she shown rapid development and starred for the side across the finals series as Coorparoo embarked on their second consecutive Grand Final.

“I thought I was way out of my depth and didn’t think that I would get anywhere with footy,” she said.

“But they were the ones that really said you can do this. It kept me thinking this could be a possibility.”

Coorparoo’s four draftees were the equal most of any state-level club across Australia and were the only Queensland club to do so.

Now, they boast a plethora of AFL Women’s experience in the ranks as the new class join Emma Zielke, Emma Pittman, Jess Wuetschner and Ally Anderson as those who have donned Lions’ colours and the navy of Coorparoo in recent times.

Wardlaw, who like Ellenger emerged from Coorparoo’s youth program this year, said the number of Kings players on the playing list has definite benefits on and off the field.

“I’m quite proud of my club in that we did have four players from Coorparoo that were drafted.”

“It’s good that I have my friends alongside me and so we can go through this journey together.”

Coorparoo’s dedication to the women’s space spans further than just the AFLW Draft though.

The Kings made Grand Finals in QAFLW, QFAW Division 1 and Under 17 Youth Girls levels in 2018 and continued to have one of the most revered female pathways in the state’s south east.

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