Kaslar’s dream comes true

By Beth Newman

When Palm Beach’s Leah Kaslar nominated for the inaugural AFL women’s draft, she thought just putting her name down would be a good story for her grandkids.

But now, selected at #37 to play for Melbourne in the MCG curtain-raiser as part of the AFL’s Women’s round, she has an even better one.

Kaslar said it was surreal to hear her name called out on draft night.

“I couldn’t believe it when I was called out,” she said.

“I was pinching myself. It’s a big step forward for women’s football.

“I’m going to work really hard to make sure I can put on the best possible.”

Kaslar is in her first year at the Lions after three years, and two premierships, with East Fremantle in the WAWFL.

While living in Western Australia, Kaslar was selected for the state’s talent academy, and said that playing in a football stronghold was a great experience.

“I had a lot of specialised training,” she said.

“They’re a lot more developed and a lot more financial (than in Queensland) so they’ve got a lot more support so I think it made a really big difference (to my development).”

While in WA, Kaslar said her state coach, Nicole Gray, was a major influence on her football career.

“I didn’t have the greatest kicking style and that was the downside so she put me in the special program to help me kick better,” she said.

“That made a real difference,having someone who believed me and she had a real big impact on my football career.”

Kaslar, who plays in the ruck with a strong vertical leap, said West Australians Nic Naitanui, Chelsea Randall are two of the footballers she most looks up to.

“I love Nic Naitanui’s style of play and he’s got such amazing ability,” she said.

“Chelsea …is hard at the football, really skilled and she doesn’t give up.

“You know you’ve got a fight on your hands playing against her.”

With the women’s draftees to play a curtain –raiser match at the MCG on June 24, Kaslar said she hoped the national spotlight would boost the profile of women’s footy.

“Quite often I tell people I play (footy) and they’re like “what?,” she said.

“The standard (of the game) should be really high and I hope it inspires other girls to join in and others to support women’s footy.”

Back in Queensland, playing for Palm Beach and studying an Environmental Science degree, the 27 year-old said she was enjoying helping other girls improve their skills.

“We’ve got a great bunch of girls and girls of all different abilities,” she said.

“Some of the girls are playing their first ever season of football really fun to help them along.”

While she might not actually step foot on the MCG turf for almost a month, Kaslar said it was a moment she had dreamed of many times before.

“I keep picturing the minute we run out and being at the MCG and the excitement because it’s the home of football and everyone dreams of playing there,”she said.

“To be part of the first ever women’s game is just amazing.

“It’ll be overwhelming.”

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