By Grant Hitzman
The 2014 Women’s Draft nominees will take on the Queensland Under 18’s this Sunday at Southport’s Fankhauser Reserve.
The game is a huge opportunity for draft nominees, who will be competing for a chance to play in the annual AFL Women’s Exhibition game between the Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs in June.
Demons and Bulldogs representative coaches, Michelle Cowan and Peta Searle will be flying to Queensland for the contest, on the lookout for the state’s finest female talent.
AFL Queensland Female Programs Coordinator, Breeanna Brock, said the match was an invaluable stepping stone for girls to continue their football dream.
“For the girls currently playing it gives them something higher to aspire too and for the younger girls it is a chance to be involved in a legitimate AFL pathway,” Brock said.
“Being a professional female athlete and being payed to play football is a realistic opportunity in the future, and this is a key step in that process.”
2014 will mark the second year of the AFL Women’s Exhibition event, following the inaugural game in 2013, which saw 50 of the most talented female players from across the country drafted to compete for the Hampson-Hardeman Cup.
The game was the first sanctioned female football match in AFL history and served as the centre-point of AFL’s Women’s Round. Five Queenslanders competed in the historic clash, with the Demons running away victors by four goals.
Brock highlighted the importance of continuing women’s representative events to ensure the growth of female football across Australia.
“The first AFL Women’s Exhibition game was a huge step towards having a representative side at more AFL clubs, which is crucial to our success,” Brock said.
“We’ve already had interest from other AFL clubs to have more representative games, it is now just about getting higher level talent to make sure we can produce higher level games and events in the future.
“Other female sports in Australia like soccer and netball have televised leagues and that’s where we are headed.”
The 2014 clash will once again serve as a curtain-raiser to the Western Bulldogs and Melbourne Demons game at Ethiad Stadium in Round 15, with the Draft to take place on May 19.
With over 250 nominees, competition will be fierce to secure a spot in the game. A slender 24 draft spots are available in 2014, after each club delisted the required 12 players.
Leah Kaslar is the only Queenslander to retain her spot this year, after Natalie Thomas, Kate Lutkins, Ally Anderson and Emily Bates were delisted.
Kaslar was chosen at pick 37 in last years draft by the Demons and is currently playing for Cooloongatta in the QWAFL.
Brock identified Queensland’s best draft chances outside of the four delisted players as Jordan Zanchetta, Megan Hunt and Tayla Harris.
The Draft Exhibition game at Fankhauser Reserve will commence at 10:45am this Sunday, April 13.