With all the media attention on the mainland states, the Tasmanian football factory is quietly churning our more future AFLW stars.
In season one we saw Brittany Gibson and Jessica Wuetschner pull on a Lions jumper, Emma Humphries run out for the Demons and Ellyse Gamble represent the Western Bulldogs.
The next footballer from the Apple Isle to join them could be Launceston’s Daria Bannister.
A midfielder who pushes forward, Bannister told the Girls Play Footy Podcast this week she was relatively new to footy and had only started playing in the TSL Women’s competition last year.
“I started playing netball first of all,” Bannister explained.
“Then I decided to start playing football in high school [and club football] in the last two years, so very new to the game.”
Despite only being in her second season of senior women’s football, Bannister caught the eye of football officials and became the only woman from Tasmania invited to this year’s NAB AFL Women’s Academy.
The Academy, which met once in Canberra and once in Melbourne, gave a select few female footballers an opportunity to learn from the best and discover what’s expected of them at the next level.
“That was an exciting opportunity for me, having exposure to AFL Women’s [Academy] coaches such as Katie Brennan, Aasta O’Connor, Renee Forth and Kiara Bowers.
“Giving us programs like strength programs, fitness programs; [preparing us] for the draft in October.
“It’s obviously a bit to take on [in a short time frame], but that’s the sort of stuff you have to take on when you become a professional footballer.
“It’s been good to have that exposure, and hopefully if I’m drafted this year, I’m already use to it.”
One of the highlights of the Academy for Bannister was learning from Western Bulldogs captain Katie Brennan, a player she not only hopes to learn from on the field, but also off it, as she undertakes her studies in fitness and nutrition.
“I think Katie Brennan is a stand out for me… being able to meet with her and train with her, and get to know what’s she’s like outside of football, owning her own business and stuff, is the sort of stuff I look up to.
“She has a unique style, she understands each individual player that she has on her team.
“It’s pretty simple, just playing to your own strengths, and that’s just what you have to do, to go out and play your own role.
“We did a lot of feedback and goal setting; she made me realise what I wanted to do and achieve in the games, so I know what I want to do now and how to get there.”
Another of the many honours bestowed upon the Launceston footballer this year was the opportunity to play in a one-off game for North Melbourne against VFLW side Darebin.
Along with nine other Tasmanians, they teamed up with Melbourne Uni’s best non-AFLW footballers in a practice match played after the AFL men’s JLT Community Series match at Arden Street Oval.
“That was a good experience especially for some Tassie girls who hadn’t that exposure to a higher level,” Bannister said.
“Being able to play with the Melbourne Uni girls and have that exposure to higher standards of football was really good for the Tassie girls.
“Having an alliance with North Melbourne and getting more Tassie girls noticed will be good for them.”
With a North Melbourne side, aligned with AFL Tasmania, not due to enter the AFL Women’s competition until at least 2019 at the earliest, Bannister, like many female footballers in her state, will have to make the tough decision on what state’s draft pool she wants to nominate for.
“I’m happy to go wherever, I’m happy to move because being a part of the AFL Women’s competition would mean so much.
“I want the best outcome for me, so possibly a Victorian-based team.”
For the clubs that miss out on drafting this young star, they should fear not, with still many undiscovered gems in Tasmania, including two from Bannister’s home club (Launceston) that she sang the praises of.
“Abbey Green is one of the tallest rucks in the competition; she’s got really strong hands and she’s good up forward.
“Naomi Celebre… strong forward, a bit like Darcy Vescio. Not afraid to go up for a mark and every time she puts the ball on the boot she seems to end up getting a goal somehow.”