Last week’s AFL Women’s Draft saw one of the SMJFL’s finest female footballers realise her dream of playing at the highest level.
Alicia Eva, a highly-decorated player with East Malvern, landed at the Holden Centre after being selected by Collingwood with pick 54.
Eva is a five-time club Best & Fairest winner with the Knights, claiming one of those awards while playing with the boys. She later captained the Youth Girls team at East Malvern.
Her leadership credentials earned her the Vice Captaincy of the Victorian under 18 Youth Girls team in 2008, before being appointed the captain of team the following year. She is currently the captain of the Melbourne Uni team that plays in the VWFL.
There have been several other accolades along the way. Eva is a two-time Youth Girls League B&F winner, was awarded the Youth Girls Interstate Player of the Carnival in 2009.
In 2010 she won both the VWFL Best First Year Player award and the Melbourne Uni Best & Fairest, which capped a stunning season for the then 19-year-old.
Having progressed through all the stages in the female football pathway, from junior football right through to the elite level, Eva is now the poster girl that gives validity to the female talent pathway that the SMJFL has in place.
The SMJFL has more opportunities than ever before for girls to get involved in junior football, with Under 10s, Under 12s, Under 14s, Under 16s and Under 18s (Youth Girls) age groups confirmed for the 2017 season.
There are representative opportunities along the way, with the South Metro Stars Interleague Program (Under 15 Girls), TAC Cup Youth Girls Academies, and Vic Metro squads (Under 15s to Under 18s) providing the standout players to showcase their talent at a higher level.
The 2017 inaugural SFNL and VAFA senior women’s competitions allow SMJFL Youth Girls graduates the opportunity to continue their football journey beyond junior level, while the existing VWFL and the newly introduced VFL Women’s leagues provide a level of progression beyond senior club football.
The latter two competitions provided the bulk of the recent draftees, including Eva.
SMJFL club Port Melbourne Colts have a senior women’s team in the VWFL, and one of their stars, Stacey Livingstone, will join Eva in the black and white stripes next season.
There are two VFL Women’s teams located in the SMJFL’s region – St Kilda Sharks and Seaford Tigerettes – and both could see an influx of SMJFL girls representing them in the near future.
But with the SMJFL girls competitions going from strength to strength, expect to see more and more of our girls in the bright lights of the AFL in the coming years.