Wednesday, May 15th – A day set to go down in history as one that put female football on the map. Conducted from the Ryder room at the MCG, hundreds of hopeful footballers eagerly awaited what was to be an exciting and emotional first ever AFL Women’s Draft.
Given the quality of players that don the Darebin Falcons guernsey each weekend, it came as no surprise that when the inaugural AFL women’s draft came around, a number of Falcons girls were in the mix to be selected as one of the 50 girls across Australia to be given the chance to represent either the Melbourne Demons or Western Bulldogs.
The game, to be played on June 29 as a curtain-raiser to the Demons and Bulldogs AFL game, will be the first time that women have represented an AFL club.
Despite knowing that a large number of Falcons could gain selection, it was overwhelming to hear the names of seven Falcons girls read out – and that was just before the 20-pick mark.
Overall, 10 Darebin women filled the 50 spots that made up Demons and Bulldogs teams to be coached by Michelle Cowan and Peta Searle respectively.
The very first name to be read out and earning the right to be referred to as the first woman to ever be drafted by an AFL team, that being Melbourne, was Daisy Pearce. Although Daisy has achieved so much in her career so far, this is sure to be right up there on her list of highlights. Possessing clinical skills, her footballing ability is only matched by her on-field leadership qualities. A very deserving first ever selection.
Aasta O’Connor became the first Falcon to earn a Western Bulldogs guernsey when her name was read out at pick four. With the ability to ruck strongly, move around the midfield like a smaller player and play key position, Aasta’s obvious talents on the football field have been recognised and rightfully acknowledged with a fourth-pick selection.
Joining Aasta with the Bulldogs’ next pick, selection six overall, was Karen Paxman. In her first season with the Falcons, Paxman’s pace and skills by hand or foot through the midfield or off half-back are enough to attract the interest of any recruiter. Paxy rounded off the Darebin players to be selected in the top 10.
Melissa Hickey (pick 11), Lauren Arnell (pick 12), Rebecca Privitelli (pick 14) and Elise O’Dea (pick 16) each earned their selection soon after, making it seven Falcons to be selected in the top 20.
Hickey’s defensive work will go a long way to helping the Demons get a win while Loz and Richo will be sure to make life hard for her in the Bulldogs’ forward line. Elise will be a welcome addition, hopefully demonstrating the same flare for the Bulldogs as she has done so far in her first year for the Falcons since coming down from Canberra.
Katie Brennan (pick 22), Jess Dal Pos (pick 46) and Natalie Wood (pick 50) rounded out the Falcons that earned the chance to represent one of the two teams. Despite not playing a game for the Falcons due to injury so far since coming down from Queensland, Katie’s excellent marking and kicking skills make her a potent key forward. Jess’ quick movement and brilliant decision making will surely cause a few headaches for the opposition while Woody’s versatility makes her a fantastic final selection.
While Daisy and Hickey will surely star with the Demons, a Peta Searle-coached Bulldogs side that features eight Falcons players will certainly be hard to overcome with Aasta, Paxy, Loz, Richo, Junior, Katie, Jess and Woody all sure to create headaches for Mich Cowan’s Demons.
Congratulations on gaining selection, girls. To have 10 Falcons selected from 50 picks is a testament to just how many fantastic players wear the Darebin guernseys each week. On what will be a momentus occasion when the Demons and Bulldogs girls clash at the MCG on July 29, the game is made even more sweet by having a large Darebin representation.
Daisy Pearce (pick 1)
Melissa Hickey (pick 11)
Aasta O’Connor (pick 4)
Karen Paxman (pick 6)
Lauren Arnell (pick 12)
Rebecca Privitelli (pick 14)
Elise O’Dea (pick 16)
Katie Brennan (pick 22)
Jess Dal Pos (pick 46)
Natalie Wood (pick 50)
On behalf on your team mates and the DWSC congratulations again ladies, a fantastic achievement.
Photograph courtesy of VWFL Pix