FIFTEEN players from the VFLW have found themselves a home at the higher level after being picked up in the 2021 NAB AFLW draft on Tuesday night.
Georgie Prespakis was the pick of the bunch taken by Geelong with the second pick overall and the first Victorian pick in the draft. Prespakis will join her sister Maddy at AFLW level after being earmarked as one of the most talented footballers in the state the last few years.
AS IT HAPPENED The full 2021 NAB AFLW Draft
Prespakis played four games for Essendon this year in the VFLW and looked at home playing crucial roles in the team’s finals series that continues this week.
The party has started at the house of Prespakis! ??— AFL Women's (@aflwomens) July 27, 2021
??: Maddy Prespakis via Instagram pic.twitter.com/z6rGEkSOxF
Plenty of mature-aged players have been given an AFLW opportunity after showing their wares in the state league in 2021.
Annabel Johnson joins VFLW teammates Claudia Gunjaca and Olivia Fuller on the Cats’ AFLW list after being taken in the first round with pick 15. Johnson was rewarded for her work on the wing exemplified by her performance in Geelong’s semi-final win over the Southern Saints.
Leading goalkickers Imogen Barnett and Imogen Milford found their way to Carlton and Collingwood respectively. Milford has spent time in the VFLW since 2018, starting at Melbourne University then crossing over to Richmond before finding her way to Casey where she had a standout year as a key forward. Her six-goal game against Hawthorn was one of the best individual performances of the season.
Barnett’s work as a lead-up target, combined with strong marking and great goal sense, has seen her elevated to the Pies’ AFLW list. The 2021 leading goalkicker started her football career at Old Trinity in the VAFA in 2019 where she won the league best and fairest before becoming an integral part of Collingwood’s undefeated team.
North Melbourne duo Airlie Runnalls and Meagan Kiely were both rewarded for their incredibly consistent seasons. Runnalls will make the journey out west to join Fremantle, while Kiely heads to Punt Road to join Richmond.
Runnalls has played in the VFLW since 2018, starting with Melbourne University and staying on at the club when their licence was taken over by North Melbourne. An outside midfielder with impressive endurance and work rate, her elevation to the AFLW is an amazing reward for effort over the last four years.
Tasmanian Kiely was probably the most consistent and one of the most dominant players in the VFLW season. She led the competition in disposals and marks and also showed off her leadership skills as the captain of the Roos. Kiely will make an immediate impact as part of an establishing Tigers midfield group.
Collingwood full-back Jasmine Ferguson will head to Arden Street for the 2021-22 AFLW season after she was picked up by North Melbourne. Ferguson was often given the opposition’s best forward and always got the job done for the Pies. She was a big reason Collingwood conceded the least points of any side and went undefeated in season 2021.
Alison Brown found her way to a third AFLW club when she was taken by Melbourne with pick 45. Brown started the VFLW season playing for the Southern Saints, but when she was delisted at the conclusion of the 2021 AFLW season she moved across to the Casey Demons. She excelled as part of the Casey side and now has another chance at the higher level with Melbourne.
Port Melbourne’s quartet of Amanda Ling, Aurora Smith, Brooke Vickers and Ashleigh Richards all found themselves on AFLW lists after strong appearances in the VFLW and NAB League. It was even sweeter for Ling and Snell who were both picked up by the Bulldogs after being overlooked in the 2020 draft.
One of the most talented players in this year’s draft pool, Annie Lee, was snapped up by Carlton with pick 10. Lee appeared in two games for Geelong this year after an outstanding season with the Geelong Falcons.
Tahlia Gillard and Eliza James were two more Under 19 talents who featured in the VFLW this year to also get drafted. James, a small forward who made two appearances for Collingwood in the VFLW, will remain in black and white in the AFLW, while the 190cm Gillard will head to Melbourne after playing for Essendon this season.