Women’s Footy: 25 players to watch out for in the inaugural season


In under a month’s time, history will again be made in the AFL, with the league launching their inaugural women’s season with an eight-team competition. I can’t speak for everyone, because I know a lot of people who haven’t bought in the idea of having a women’s AFL, but I’m super excited for the beginning of what I hope is a great success.


But in the interest of those who are only just beginning to develop an interest in women’s footy, I’ve listed 25 players to watch out for the first AFL women’s season.


25. Emma Swanson (GWS Giants)


Signed by the Giants as a marquee player, Swanson is a young,  highly-talented midfielder from East Fremantle who can also push forward where necessary, she’s got decent strength and a good leap. She’ll have a bit more weight on her shoulders this year after the Giants’ other marquee signing Renee Forth ruptured her ACL in August last year, ruling her out for the entire 2017 season.


24. Karen Paxman (Melbourne)


Paxman was signed by Melbourne as a priority selection for 2017, and it’s not hard to see why they were so keen to nab her. Paxman was one of the hardest runners in the VFL women’s league in 2016 and was rewarded accordingly with a spot in the VFL women’s team of the year on the half-back line. What’s even more remarkable about this is that Paxman took a year out of the game in 2015, spending her time travelling the globe.


23. Ebony Marinoff (Adelaide)


A first-round selection in the first-ever AFL women’s draft last October, Marinoff  is described as a tough inside-midfielder with the capacity to run all day, she’s also got a penetrating kick on her and can win her own ball on a regular basis. People may recognise Marinoff as the woman who bolted from the bench mid-interview during a game between South Australia and NSW/ACT and ran onto the ground and kicked the game-winning goal.


22. Nicola Stevens (Collingwood)


Another woman who was taken in the first round of the AFL women’s draft, Nicola Stevens is one of the best key defenders in women’s footy today. At 23 years of age, she was named in the VFL women’s team of the year at full-back last year. She boasts strong hands and is courageous in defence.


21. Elise O’Dea (Melbourne)


Originally from Canberra, O’Dea is a midfielder who was picked up with Melbourne’s first selection in the AFL women’s draft. She is a hard-nosed on-baller who is a fantastic user of the footy either by hand or by foot and was one of many stars in the Darebin Falcons’ VFL women’s premiership team in 2016.


20. Maddie Boyd (Melbourne)


Boyd is one of the taller females in the game, standing at 178cm. She possesses excellent tap skills as a ruckman and was one of the hardest workers for Geelong in the women’s VFL and it showed as she was consistently in their best players week by week. Named in VFL women’s team of the year last year, Boyd will be one to keep an eye out this year.


19. Chelsea Randall (Adelaide)


One of Adelaide’s marquee signings, Randall has all the athletic attributes to be a star in this competition. She is hard-hitting, is good in the air, displays neat skills by foot and shows composure beyond her years. A player that the Crows fans will love as Randall is one of the most passionate players you’ll see.


18. Jaimee Lambert (Western Bulldogs)


One that every Bulldog fan should keep their eye on, Lambert not only was the first Bulldog drafted in October’s women’s draft, but she won the Susan Alberti Award for her performances for the Dogs throughout their exhibition games in 2016. A young, yet hard as nails inside midfielder, Lambert excels in the stoppages, and a top-10 finish in the VFL women’s best and fairest backs it up.


17. Kara Donnellan (Fremantle)


Donnellan will captain Fremantle in the inaugural season. She is a midfielder who displays tremendous athletic ability, can play both inside and outside as she is quick, courageous and tough in the stoppages. She can also provide run and drive outside of the defensive 50 and is a smart decision maker by foot. With fellow marquee signing Kiara Bowers out for the year with a knee-injury, Donnellan will be required to step up for the Dockers this year.


16. Sarah Perkins (Adelaide)


Despite kicking 52 goals for the Eastern Devils in the VFL women’s competition, finishing in the top 10 in the competition’s best and fairest and earning a spot in the forward line in the VFL women’s team of the year in 2016, Sarah Perkins did not get drafted by a club in the women’s draft, but the Crows were keen enough to sign her on as a free agent for the upcoming season. She has strong hands and provides a very dangerous target inside forward 50.


15. Sarah Hosking (Carlton)


Once an elite netballer, now an on-baller from VFL women’s club Seaford, Hosking took out the competition’s Rising Star award as the best young female talent in the competition, starring for the Tigers in a season where they only won six games. Hosking is classified as a midfielder who does her best work in the contested situations, and at only 20 years of age, has an unbelievable amount of room to grow into a complete midfielder.


14. Sabrina Frederick-Traub (Brisbane)


One of Brisbane’s marquee signings, South Fremantle product Frederick-Traub is one of the brightest young prospects in the AFL women’s division. has the size and ability to be one of the best full-forwards in the AFL women’s division. She’s solidly built, she can jump and is a very strong overhead mark and can also provide short stints in the ruck where need be. It’ll be exciting to watch her and fellow young key forward Tayla Harris work together in the future.


13. Kate McCarthy (Brisbane)


Not many people will know who Kate McCarthy is, but she was impressive for Brisbane in their exhibition games last year, in particular her run and carry goals. Her sporting history is huge, she represented Australia in touch footy and starred in track and field. Her lightning fast pace would be a huge asset on a wing or even across half-back. One player that has become a real favourite of mine.


12. Bianca Jakobsson (Carlton)


Known as ‘BJ’ in the AFL women’s community, she was taken with the third pick in the AFL women’s league draft, and Blues fans should be excited with what she brings to the footy field. A top-10 placing in the VFL women’s best and fairest, she has an exceptional leap to go along with her ability to take strong contested marks. As well as playing as a half-forward option, Jakobsson can push up the ground and play as a midfielder with incredible decision-making skills.


11. Nicola Barr (GWS)


Barr made history in October as she was selected as the first-overall pick in the first-ever women’s league draft. A young, promising midfielder who has an elite running ability and a scintillating kick on her. 2016 was a breakout year of sorts for the 20-year old, a year after she won the Sydney Women’s AFL Rising Star award, she took home the league’s best and fairest award, cementing her spot as one of the game’s brightest up and comers.


10. Tayla Harris (Brisbane)


Tayla Harris is only 19 years old and shapes as one of the rising stars in the women’s competition going forward. A star key-forward for Zillmere in the QWAFL, she possesses strong hands and is one of the more elite marks in the women’s competition, whether it be on the lead or in a one-on one. She also has a very elite and penetrating kick on her as well. The sky is well and truly the limit for this young and talented lady.


9. Jess Cameron (Collingwood)


A remarkable story about converting as a national women’s cricketer to a talented forward who can bag goals, Cameron came onto the women’s footy scene in 2016 and made an instant impact on debut, kicking nine goals for Diamond Creek in a crushing victory over Knox. It wasn’t long afterwards she featured for Melbourne in an exhibition match against Brisbane, in which she again starred, kicking six goals in a 71-point demolition job of the Lions. If she can work in tandem with Moana Hope in the forward line, it looms as one of the best forward duos we’ll see in 2017.


8. Steph Chiocci (Collingwood)


Bulldogs fans will remember as the first woman that got drafted to the Bulldogs back in 2013, and she was quite the player during her time in the red, white and blue. She’s got blistering pace, she knows how to use the ball effectively and is an outstanding leader for Diamond Creek in the VFL women’s league last year. A top five finish in the league best and fairest and a spot in the women’s team of the year highlights what she’s well and truly capable of.


7. Darcy Vescio (Carlton)


Not the tallest woman out there, but what she lacks in size, more than makes up for in talent. She’s quick, fearless towards the ball and is incredibly lethal when she’s around goal. Vescio kicked 47 goals for Darebin last year and was named on the half-forward flank in the VFL women’s team of the year. Carlton fans should be happy to have her on board, as she’s more than capable of being a match-winner, she was named best on ground in Darebin’s Grand Final win last year.


6. Melissa Hickey (Melbourne)


One of two Melbourne marquee players, Melissa Hickey has got some legendary football history, as her grandfather’s cousin, was none other than Geelong great, Reg Hickey. She’s emerged as one of women’s footy’s premier defenders, starring for Darebin in 2016 and being rewarded with a spot in the half-back line in the VFL women’s team of the year. She loves to run and carry out of half-back and is one of the more competitive women you’ll see out there.


5. Brianna Davey (Carlton)


I hadn’t heard much of her until mid-2016 when she starred for the Bulldogs in an exhibition match against Western Australia. I was even more surprised when I realised that she was a former goal-keeper for the Australian women’s soccer team. I shouldn’t sound so surprised, she has such awesome hands for a defender, capable of marking everything in sight. She finished second in the VFL women’s best and fairest award and was named in the midfield in the VFL women’s team of the year. She can also play that intercept-marking role in defence which makes her all the more valuable.


4. Ellie Blackburn (Western Bulldogs)


I’m a huge fan of how Ellie Blackburn goes about her footy, and this dates back to when she associated herself with Melbourne in the exhibition games. A midfielder from Melbourne Uni, she’s one of two marquee players of the Western Bulldogs and a player I rate really highly. She finished in the top three in the VFL women’s best and fairest count and has become one of the more elite midfielders in the women’s game. She’s tough, fearless and knows how to use the footy.


3. Katie Brennan (Western Bulldogs)


Like Blackburn, I’m very pleased to have Katie Brennan on board the red, white and blue full-time in 2017. A key forward for Darebin who finished in the top five in the VFL women’s best and fairest count and finished second in the goal-kicking tally, finishing the 2016 season with 84 goals. As well as being a renowned goal-kicker, Brennan’s enormous engine allows her to push up the ground and become a midfielder and is amongst the leaders of the Bulldogs’ women’s team.


2. Daisy Pearce (Melbourne)


Considered by many as a pioneer of women’s footy, Daisy Pearce is a very intelligent and very talented player, her endurance is elite, her decision-making skills are first-rate and her ability to win the ball at will is heavily documented. Her awards throughout her career are a testament to this. In 2016, she won the inaugural VFL women’s best and fairest award, playing a crucial role in the Darebin midfield in their premiership year, this being the seventh league best and fairest award in her career.


1. Moana Hope (Collingwood)


I simply love watching Moana Hope play footy. This might be an extreme comparison, but I certainly believe she is to women’s footy to what Lance Franklin is to the AFL – both are gun key forwards, possibly the best in their respective leagues. Hope is capable of kicking bags of 10 or more on any given day. Fresh off of a 100-plus goal season for St. Kilda in the VFL women’s season in 2016, Collingwood supporters should be delighted that she’s on board for 2017. She’s often a dead-eye in front of goal and her leads to the ball carriers make it a nightmare for opposition defenders to stop.



You can read all of Alex’s pieces on: http://bulldogscentre.fansunite.com.au/




About Alex Docherty

Alex is a diehard footy nut. He loves his Western Bulldogs and loves writing about them every week as much he loves running out and playing footy himself.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi Alex, brilliant stuff. I needed the introduction, as we all do, and I agree with your ratings. Keep em coming.

  2. Great summary Alex. There’s some impressive talent in your list. That Chelsea Randall can only make number 19 in your Top 25 says a lot about how many terrific players there are in this competition. Like you, I can’t wait for the season to kick off! Cheers

  3. Neil Anderson says

    Your ratings of the AFL women was a great way to get everyone interested in the competition ready to kick off soon.
    Putting those names in front of footy-fans gives us some players to look out for when things get underway. Will look forward to reading your match reports.
    Nice to meet you at the Almanac launch and put a face to the name of another Bulldog fan.

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