THE AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships saw plenty of draft hopefuls take to three grounds across Queensland to showcase their skills. While many players stood out, only one Most Valuable Player (MVP) could be chosen from each state.
Central Allies – Janet Baird
A Victorian Football League (VFL) Women’s NT Thunder player, Baird has the speed and tenacity to tear a game apart. She performed well throughout the carnival, tackling hard and providing excellent run and carry for her side. Although the Central Allies did not register a win, Baird was a key player throughout the tournament, often using the ball well when she had the opportunity to do so.
Eastern Allies – Alyce Parker
Parker was so dominant in the Eastern Allies’ outfit, bollocking through contests with sheer pace and acceleration. Getting the ball forward was no issue for Parker, as her penetrating kick proved to be a valuable weapon of hers. She also moved well and made an impact across the ground, highlighting her great endurance.
Queensland – Natalie Grider
The Queensland captain was inspirational, with the highlight of her game being her strong hands. She also managed to find space well and provide some nice run and carry for her side. She was one of the key players in Queensland’s historic win over Vic Metro, and backed up her form with some great tackling throughout the tournament, including one that saved a goal.
Northern Territory – Tabitha May
May starred for Northern Territory in Series One of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Although her side went down to South Australia twice, she played a pivotal role in the side. She continued this good form into the Gold Coast, putting immense pressure on the ball carrier with her speed and excellent closing speed to stop opponents in their tracks.
NSW/ACT – Alyce Parker
Yes, you saw right, Parker has won two MVP honours, one for her state and one for the Eastern Allies, which combines players from both NSW/ACT and Tasmania. Parker won the MVP for her state in last year’s Championships and did remarkably well to back up her form in this year’s matches.
South Australia – Montana McKinnon
A really talented player who knows how to take a grab or two. Whether it was overhead, intercept or one-on-one, there was a big chance that McKinnon was going to mark the ball, giving opposition forwards headaches throughout the tournament. She often positioned herself well against talented players and delivered long kicks that often got her side out of trouble.
Tasmania – Mia King
A player who always fights hard for the footy, King was a shining light for Tasmania. She backed up her great form from Series One into Series Two of the tournament, using the ball well both on the inside and outside. She also has great agility as she often sidestepped around her opponents and followed up with nice kicks to assert her presence in the game.
Vic Metro – Madison Prespakis
No surprise here to see another medal added to Prespakis’ collection, as she continues to dominate at under-18 level. During this tournament, she used her trademark strength to bollock through contests and boot the ball out of congestion to get the ball forward. She was instrumental in both the midfield and up forward, kicking four goals from four games in the tournament.
Vic Country – Nina Morrison
One of the most exciting players to watch, Morrison used her speed and aggression to wreak havoc in the big ‘V’. Her outside game was spectacular as she managed to always find space and run into it with purpose, delivering some nice kicks to her forwards. Her marking and tackling was also a highlight and she complemented this with her clean hands to players on the inside in what was a great all-round performance from her in the tournament.
Western Australia – Sabreena Duffy
The Western Australia captain was a star for the Black Swans, providing excellent run and carry as well as nice kicks throughout the tournament. Duffy always attacked the ball fiercely and managed to use it cleanly, often getting her side out of trouble. Her hands were also great, as she was able to give the ball off quickly to open up space on the outside for her teammates to run into.
Overall MVPs – Madison Prespakis (Vic Metro) and Nina Morrison (Vic Country)
For the first time in the AFL Women’s Championships, two players recorded equal votes to take out the competition’s MVP award. This is Prespakis’ second consecutive year winning this award while Morrison is a first-timer. Both players provided excitement in their own unique ways, with Prespakis providing some blistering kicks and tackles while Morrison was damaging on the outside and used her clean hands to effect.