Havana Harris in action during the Coates Talent League match between Gold Coast Academy and Oakleigh Chargers at La Trobe University Sports Field on June 4, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

FOR ALL the talk around Havana Harris being a potential No.1 draft pick, she is surprisingly unaffected.

Leaning into the relaxed nature of the Gold Coast, Harris is a beach-going, longboard-surfing, 4WD-driving teenager. She just happens to also be a superb athlete and footballer.


"I am a relaxed person. I don't think I really suffer with bad anxiety," Harris told AFL.com.au.

"I just take things bit by bit. If I've got a really hard workload or a lot going on, I just take it step by step and not freak myself out."

A heavy workload is something Harris knows all about, too. Growing up as an elite sprinter and high-jumper, she was a national champion at 12 years old. She got used to balancing those commitments with her burgeoning footy career.

But now in her draft year, Harris is wholly focused on footy and is taking the skills learned through

Havana Harris celebrates a goal during the Academy's clash against the U23 All-Stars on April 6, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

"The friends I made through athletics kept me in it for so long, but also, as a high-jumper, it definitely benefitted me coming into footy," Harris said.

"Sprinting as well, having speed. I just loved the sport… but as I got older, more girls dropped out and it certainly got more competitive."

The 182cm tall ruck/forward joined the Gold Coast Suns Academy program in 2019 and has been one of the state's most promising talents for the last few years.

Her height is complemented perfectly with a serious ability to attack the ball in the air but Harris is also adept below the knees. Such versatility is a still a rarity in the AFLW, and so Harris’ skills are considered to be a huge asset.

Havana Harris during the AFL National Academy Girls training session at Ikon Park on January 19, 2024. Picture: AFL Photos

Named the MVP of the under-18 national championships last year, she was also included in the Under-18 All-Australian squad, as well as voted best-on-ground in Bond University's QAFLW premiership.

Her time in the Academy has meant she has already worked closely with star Suns midfielders Charlie Rowbottom and Claudia Whitfort, whom she admires.

But there's another player, Ava Usher, still a year away from being draft-eligible herself, that Harris has found the best connection with, both on and off the field. Winning the QAFLW premiership together last year was something Harris holds close.

"Getting to play the Grand Final, like, I've played Grand Finals before, but that next level up is definitely amazing. And playing alongside Ava… she is a freak," Harris said.

Ava Usher in action during Gold Coast Academy's clash against GWV Rebels in the Coates Talent League Girls on May 21, 2023. Picture: AFL Photos

The pair have known each other for the last few years not only playing elite junior footy, but sharing a passion off the field.

"I was surf lifesaving, and she does surf lifesaving, we've always come across each other. But in the last two years, we've become really close, so that always makes it so much easier, playing together," she said.

Outside of footy, her career aspirations lie in public service, the goal to become a firefighter or follow in her father's footsteps to become a police officer.

Havana Harris kicks a goal during Gold Coast's clash against Brisbane in the U16s on September 19, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

But all of that is far in the future. Right now, finishing school and putting her best foot forward with both the Gold Coast and AFLW Academies is the prevailing focus.

And if anything is certain, it is that recruiters right across the country will be hoping to land her on draft night.