The second AFL Women’s draft was held at Etihad Stadium on Monday night, with Melbourne and the Western Bulldogs selecting their squads for an exhibition match to be played at Etihad Stadium on July 29.
“It really does make us feel so lucky about the privileges we get as footballers that the [women] obviously don’t get all the time” – Jack Grimes
There were plenty of familiar faces in attendance, with Melbourne co-captain Jack Grimes presenting guernseys to those selected by the Dees, former Geelong skipper Tom Harley doing the MC duties, new AFL Chief Executive Gillon McLachlan present, and the captains of last year’s teams, Daisy Pearce and Aasta O’Connor, welcoming new draftees to their respective sides.
Melbourne co-captain Jack Grimes – who was involved in the Dees’ women’s side last year in a coaching role, during a stint on the sidelines due to injury – attended the women’s draft for the first time and was taken aback by the atmosphere at the event.
“I wasn’t at the draft itself last year, but it’s amazing to see the buzz in the room and the energy,” Grimes said.
“To see some of the girls that are getting up [to receive their jumpers], and the emotion – how overwhelmed they are by the whole experience… It’s really good to see just how much it means to them.”
Monday night was a career highlight for many of the women, but Grimes hopes it’s the start of something much bigger.
“It makes us feel very lucky [in regards to] the privileges that we get in men’s footy, so [I’m] hoping the women can get the same opportunities moving forward,” he said.
The inaugural number one pick in last year’s women’s draft, Daisy Pearce, said it had been great to have the support of Grimes and the rest of the Melbourne Football Club.
“It’ll be great to have Jack back on board this year,” Pearce said.
“To have him back down tonight and hopefully having some sort of involvement in the game – hopefully he’s not coaching again, because that’d mean he’s injured… But I’m sure he’ll be getting involved in some way, because I know he enjoyed the experience and really believes women should get the same opportunities as he did. He speaks really passionate about that; to have him involved is great for us.”
There’s no question women’s footy is growing, with more females playing the game than ever before, and more people being exposed to it.
“The first training session that I went to, it was amazing to see the skill level and the amount of professionalism,” Grimes recalled.
“A lot of people when they first came along to the game, or saw training, were really, really surprised at just how good these girls are and how serious they are about their footy.”
Having seen firsthand the passion of those involved, Grimes is keen to continue his involvement with women’s footy.
— AFL Players (@AFLPlayers) May 19, 2014
“They trained at Gosch’s Paddock and had their meetings in our facilities and did recovery there, which was good to see. They got the experience of seeing what the AFL environment is like as well, and it was good to see them enjoy it.
“It really does make us feel so lucky about the privileges we get as footballers that they obviously don’t get all the time. Hopefully they’re down there again and a few of the [Melbourne] players will get along and watch them.
It felt like we’d been playing with that group for years and we would’ve done anything to get the Dees across the line.” – Daisy Pearce on last year’s match
“Half the girls were on the list last year, so I got to know them, so I’d love to get down there and help out as much as I can – at training and that sort of thing.”
The draft system allows the Demons and Bulldogs to each select 12 players from last year’s sides to represent them again, and pick the rest from the remainder of the group. For some, such as Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce, this made it a relatively relaxed event.
“It’s definitely exciting coming here tonight without any pressure or worry about whether I’m going to get drafted, and just to come along and see who’ll be joining me at the Dees,” Pearce said.
“Last year, the game itself was an absolute buzz, and exceeded my expectations of what I thought it would be like… It felt like we’d been playing with that group for years and we would’ve done anything to get the Dees across the line.
“I think just the amount of time, passion and energy that the girls put into their footy means that the game that results is a really passionate one as well. I can’t wait to get out there this year, having got a taste for it last year, and it’s only going to get better.”
While the women who’ll run onto Etihad Stadium on July 29 have plenty of reason to be excited, there’s a growing amount of enthusiasm from other sections of the football community – with the Melbourne and Western Bulldogs Football Clubs at the forefront.
“I feel really privileged to be a part of a club that gets involved with its footy like this, because women in footy in general has been a big part of the Melbourne footy club,” Grimes said.
“But especially for us to get behind things like this and to really help it grow and to put a lot of time into it… It is really special that we do that as a footy club, and I’m really proud to be part of a club that does that.”
2014 AFL Women’s Draft selections
No.1 – WB – Tiah Haynes (Coastal Titans, WA)
No.2 – Melb – Meg Hutchins (Eastern Devils, Vic)
No.3 – WB – Darcy Vescio (Darebin, Vic)
No.4 – WB – Melissa Caulfield (East Fremantle, WA)
No.5 – Melb – Kellie-Marie Gibson (Swan Districts, WA)
No.6 – WB – Rheanne Lugg (Swan Districts, WA)
No.7 – Melb – Emma Zielke (Coorparoo, Qld)
No.8 – WB – Dana Hooker (Coastal Titans, WA)
No.9 – Melb – Kaitlyn Ashmore (Melbourne Uni, Vic)
No.10 – WB – Moanna Hope (East Burwood, Vic)
No.11 – Melb – Lauren Stammers (Coastal Titans, WA)
No.12 – WB – Brooke Whyte (Melbourne Uni, Vic)
No.13 – Melb – Phoebe McWilliams (St Kilda, Vic)
No.14 – WB – Emily Bates (Yeronga, Qld)
No.15 – Melb – Renee Forth (Coastal Titans, WA)
No.16 – WB – Stephanie Walding (East Fremantle, WA)
No.17 – Melbourne – Tayla Harris (Zillmere, Qld)
No.18 – Western Bulldogs – Stephanie Simpson (Darebin, Vic)
No.19 – Melbourne – Hayley Miller (Coastal Titans, WA)
No.20 – Western Bulldogs – Lauren Morecroft (Diamond Creek, Vic)
No.21 – Melbourne – Dianna Haines (Diamond Creek, Vic)
No.22 – Melbourne – Nicolette “Sissy” Dunne (Pioneer Girls, NT)
No.23 – Western Bulldogs – Madeline Keryk (Vic) – emergency
No.24 – Melbourne – Courtney Cramey (Morphetville Park, SA) – emergency