By Grant Hitzman
Following the success of last years inaugural AFL women’s match between the Melbourne Demons and Western Bulldogs, the two sides will again clash this Sunday at Etihad Stadium, bringing together the best female football talent in the country.
The 2014 Draft, held on May 19, saw 284 women from across Australia vie for just 24 draft spots. Three Queenslanders were lucky enough to be selected, along with Leah Kaslar, who retained her spot on Melbourne’s list. We take a look at each of the four Queensland women involved in the exhibition game and the role they will play on Sunday.
Emma Ziekle (Coorparoo) Pick #7 – Melbourne Demons
The Queensland women’s state team captain and All-Australian, Zielke is a premium selection for the Demons. The feisty on-baller is a leader on and off the field who plays with an intense drive and passion for the game. A member of the first AFL Academy for females, Zielke has experienced top quality football before, playing in front of 10,000 at the MCG in 2010. Under her leadership, Coorparoo entered the SEQAFL for the first time in 2013, where she was named in the League’s Team of the Year. In her fifth season, Zielke is enjoying career best form and will be a key asset for the Demons in congested passages of play.
Emily Bates (Yeronga) Pick #14 – Western Bulldogs
A delisted Bulldogs player from 2013, Bates has found her way back onto the Dogs list after a year of constant performances. Competing at four national championshisp and earning two All-Australian selections, the Yeronga local brings a wealth of experience to the table. Bates is a hard running midfielder who can provide assistance across the forward line with a reliable mark and clean hand. She also displays excellent endurance and a team orientated mindset. Bates will be a key player for the Dogs and will be at the forefront of their engine room on Sunday.
Tayla Harris (Zillmere) Pick #17 – Melbourne Demons
At just 17 years of age, Harris has established herself as a class ruck option with excellent performances at the Queensland Youth Girl Championships and as a leader/coach of the NZ Kahus in 2013. A three time All-Australian, Harris holds the running vertical leap record at youth girls level, is an accurate tap ruckman and takes a strong overhead contested mark. Her versatility around the ground is her greatest asset however, able to be used in the ruck, along centre half forward and as a sweeping defender. Her role as a utility could be pivotal to the Demons success.
Leah Kaslar (Cooloongatta) Retained – Melbourne Demons
Kaslar was drafted at Pick #37 in the 2013 Women’s Draft and proved to be a steal after a strong performance for the Demons in last year’s exhibition game. The only Queenslander to retain her spot on either list, Kaslar is an ideal ruck/forward option. Originally from Cairns, Kaslar took up football eight years ago when her high school basketball captain took her along to training. Kaslar hasn’t looked back since, playing top quality football all around the country. Kaslar proved herself as one of the best players in the country in 2011 when she was best on ground for East Fremantle in the 2011 WAWFL Grand Final and also claimed their Best and Fairest award in the same year. Kaslar will bring a wealth of experience to the clash on Sunday and will be a major threat in front of goals.
The exhibition game will start at 10:10am this Sunday June 29, and will be played as a curtain raiser to the Melbourne Demons v Western Bulldogs AFL clash at 1:10pm. The match will be streamed live on the AFL website: www.afl.com.au/womens