Saints all-rounder and ex-SMJFL player and umpire, Olivia Vesely, has earnt herself a NAB Rising Star nomination in Round 5 of the AFLW against Carlton at Ikon Park.
Vesely’s nomination comes as the third of the season for the Saints AFLW team.
At only 20 years old, the star midfielder is among the youngest of her team members.
Regularly displaying tenacity, fearlessness and perseverance, Vesely has shown skill beyond her years as she has become a standout week after week.
Now based at RSEA Park with the Saints, Vesely’s background in football is strongly rooted within the South Metro region and the SMJFL.
Her SMJFL career began in 2009 when she joined East Malvern JFC’s U10 Girls team, where she played 11 games.
Vesely then transferred to Glen Iris, before resuming her SMJFL career by entering the SMJFL Umpire Academy in 2015.
The now-Saint umpired 11 field umpire matches throughout the 2015 season, including an U11 Division 1 Grand Final.
Veseley was rewarded for her efforts in the academy, picking up the SMJFL Umpire Academy Girls Encouragement Award that same year.
In 2017, Vesely was the recipient of the Sandringham Dragons’ inaugural TAC Cup Girls Best and Fairest in her debut season, before Vesely was picked up for Carlton’s VFLW side for the 2018 season.
Vesely’s determination saw her then picked by the Southern Saints VFLW side in 2019, where she caught the attention of AFLW recruitment after a glowing season.
In August of 2019, Vesely was surprised by Coach Peta Searle when she was elevated to the St Kilda AFLW side as the team’s 18th member.
Vesely then said she was humbled by the experience and could barely believe the news.
“It was such a surprise. I did not think that that was happening at all,” Vesely said. “I’m still surprised, to be honest. I can’t believe it.”
“I’m really thrilled to be a part of it because I know all of the girls already and they’re all such legends. I really love being around them all,” she said.
“Its really, really exciting to be part of it.”
Vesely sits among several SMJFL stars who have soared to AFL status, including Chris Judd (East Sandringham), Andrew McGrath (East Brighton Vampires), Ellie Blackburn (East Malvern), Isabel Huntington (South Melbourne Districts/East Malvern), Andrew Brayshaw (Hampton Rovers) and Jack Higgins (East Malvern/Ormond).
Vesely will next appear on Saturday 14 March at RSEA Park for Round 6 of the AFLW against Richmond.