THE AFL has successfully rolled out the welcome mat for up to 140 prospective female athletes who took part in Saturday's national talent search at the Whitten Oval.
AFL female football ambassador Daisy Pearce was impressed with the level of talent on display in the session in Melbourne's west, the first of several testing sessions to be held nationally.
"We were really happy with the turnout but it really exceeded our expectations in terms of the quality of the girls coming through so it was a great start to the campaign," Pearce told AFL.com.au.
During the talent search the AFL will specifically target the best athletes, even if that means recruiting players from other sports.
Talented basketballer Sarah Lampard, 18, shone in the testing, registering a mark of 70cm for the running vertical jump test.
That places Lampard in the top five in the all-time testing of female athletes.
Pearce said it was fantastic to see the girls relishing their chance to participate in Australian football.
"We want AFL to become the first-choice sport for the top athletes in the country," Pearce said.
"We haven't had very much to offer these girls traditionally and now we do, so now we're laying out the welcome mat for them to come and give the sport a go and we're certainly targeting those top athletes."
AFL Victoria announced on the weekend it has started a development academy, as a subsidiary to the one that Pearce is involved in, for 30 girls to develop their skills and pursue the sport.
The talent search campaign continues this weekend with a session scheduled for Trinity College in Perth on Saturday.
Talent search dates
Saturday, January 30
Sunday, February 7
Anglican Church Grammar
Sunday, February 14
Prince Alfred College
Sunday, February 21
St Ignatius College
Sunday, February 28
Newtown High School
Some of the action from Saturday's session at Whitten Oval. Pictures: AFL Media