As voted by her peers, Georgia Patrikios has won the AFLW Players’ Best First-Year Player Award, proudly presented by KPMG Australia.
aflplayers.com.au spoke to the Calder Cannons’ Female Talent Manager, Russell Humphrey, about what stood out to him when the club recruited Georgia Patrikios ahead of the inaugural NAB League Girl’s (formerly TAC Cup) season.
As an under-16s player playing for Pascoe Vale Football Club, Georgia Patrikios cemented herself as a shining light for the future of women’s football.
Calder Cannons Female Talent Manager Russell Humphrey remembers watching on as the Cannons were recruiting for their inaugural NAB League (formerly TAC Cup) Girl’s side and thinking Patrikios had the makings of a talented footballer.
“What she does now, she was going back then,” Humphrey told aflplayers.com.au following Patrikios’ Best First-Year Player win.
“All of the things you’ve seen in the AFLW – carrying the footy, running with it, kicking with distance and accuracy – we saw that three and a half years ago… it’s what stood out,” he said.
Often described as passionate, fierce and competitive on the football field, Humphrey saw those attributes first-hand when Patrikios led her team to a triumphant semi-final victory over the Geelong Falcons in 2019.
“Georgia stood up that day and throughout the finals series to play an important role with her footy,” Humphrey said.
“Every time the standard lifted, her own performance would too.”
Patrikios was named among the best that day, as she had been six out of a possible nine times.
After falling short against the Northern Knights in the Grand Final, Patrikios hit her straps during the mid-year National Championships, where she was named the Vic Metro Player of the Championships.
Humphrey said it was no surprise her standards continued to lift with each football challenge she was presented with.
“Everything she did with her football and the way she played is what got her drafted… those elements, when you’ve got talented players around you, really stood out,” he said.
In her first year at the Cannons, Patrikios played alongside the likes of Chloe Molloy (Collingwood), Monique Conti (Richmond) and Maddy Prespakis (Carlton), an opportunity which Humphrey said helped fast-track her development.
Although Georgia was only 16 at the time, Humphrey said she was a natural fit in the team because of her work ethic and competitive nature.
“Having other players of similar talent around her encouraged and supported her improvement,” he said.
“Those players (who have now all gone on to play in the AFLW) taught her what was required to continue to improve as a footballer and leader and Georgia took that onboard.”
That growth and development is something St Kilda co-captain Cat Phillips said was on display when Patrikios walked through the doors at Moorabbin ahead of her first pre-season.
“Immediately her confidence and leadership as a young person coming into a new environment stood out to me,” Phillips told aflplayers.com.au earlier this year.
“Georgia turned up on day one, fitting right into the team and making herself at home with the group. From that moment she was driving high standards from everyone,” she said.
Prior to joining the Saints with pick No. 5 in the 2019 NAB AFLW Draft, and in addition to her time with the Cannons and Vic Metro, Patrikios had a stint with Essendon in the VFLW.
Through the Cannons’ partnership with Essendon, Patrikios played a few games in the middle of the year to help continue her development and boost her draft chances.
Humphrey believes having the ability to play against women and other AFLW players held Patrikios in good stead ahead of her first season at the highest level.
Despite Patrikios being the third winner from the Calder Cannons of the AFLW Players’ Best First Year Player, Humphrey said there’s nothing in the water in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs, but rather a hard-working talent program.
“There’s no doubt they’ve (Molloy, Prespakis and Patrikios) been able to settle seamlessly into AFLW programs,” Humphrey said.
“But, it comes down to character and hard work.
“Ultimately, Georgia is a competitive, coachable player who is out to achieve as much as she possibly can through her football and that’s been on show this season.”
Best First-Year Player Award, proudly presented by KPMG
Georgia Patrikios, St Kilda – 173
Grace Egan, Carlton – 89
Catherine Svarc, Brisbane – 26