AFL draft thrill for VU Spurs

Seven VU Western Spurs have been picked up by AFL clubs for the inaugural women’s league season starting in February.

More than 150 players were drafted to the league’s eight clubs last Wednesday in an afternoon of nerves and anticipation across the country as players waited to find out if they would be picked up and by which clubs.

The Spurs didn’t have to wait long for one of their players to join the competition, with Ashleigh Guest snapped up by Greater Western Sydney at pick 16 to send the former state softball player north.

“I was lucky enough to be in the room so that was super exciting,” Guest said. “Everyone was pretty quiet and nervous, waiting for their name to be called out.

“I’ve been playing footy for eight years, and you just never think that something like this is going to happen. It never really crossed my mind until [Spurs coach] Debbie Lee got the Melbourne Football Club on board and got the exhibition games started a few years ago.”

The influence of Lee on all the players at the Spurs is not lost on Guest, who said every one of the women now on AFL lists and those who got them there are trailblazers.

“The work that Debbie has done over many years – she’s the true trailblazer that started a Womens club 25 years ago when there was no league. This all started a long, long time ago.”

Bree White was the next Spurs player to be drafted when Collingwood read her name out at pick 38. Despite playing for Melbourne in every exhibition game in the past few years, she said she couldn’t wait to pull on the famous Magpies guernsey.

“To be a part of the biggest sporting club in Australia is pretty exciting,” White said.

“Seeing the hype around the competition in the build-up to the draft and the games, you can really see where the women’s game is going. The support has been fantastic and I can’t wait to get stuck into pre-season.”

A quartet of Spurs were selected by the Demons, with Alyssa Mifsud (pick 40), Shelley Scott (pick 41), Ainslie Kemp (pick 88) and Sarah Lampard (pick 134) all now in the Dees’ squad.

Mifsud, a former basketballer who has just completed her first year of football at any level, was overjoyed to be joining the Demons.

“I still can’t believe how quickly everything has happened – I’m still pinching myself” she said.

“I always wanted to play footy, but for various reasons basketball became my focus, but when the talk of an AFL women’s league picked up there was a definite motivation to switch and get drafted, so this is unreal. There’s a real energy around and we want to make sure we put our best foot forward and represent the game as best we can.

“We are the first lot and we definitely want to show the rest of Australia what we’ve got because it’s been hidden for a long time.”

Helen Roden, was drafted to Collingwood as a rookie after completing her first year of football at the Spurs.