AFTER honing her craft in her first season at SANFL Women’s level as a defender, Woodville-West Torrens Women’s Jovanka Zecevic has enjoyed the past two seasons as a midfielder/forward. The talented utility started her football journey out at Gaza in Division 3 of the South Australian Women’s Football League, where she played 28 games across two seasons. By her second season – and 10 bests from 15 games – it was time to step it up.
Zecevic moved to Adelaide University in Division 1, once her debut season in the SANFL Women’s wrapped up without an Eagles win in their inaugural year. Playing as a defender, Zecevic averaged 11.1 disposals and 2.7 rebound 50s across nine matches. A role shift through midfield and up forward over the past two years was a welcome change for the now 23-year-old.
“It all started when I started playing with my high school friends at Gaza and it was only about Div 3 or something,” Zecevic said. “Played out there for fun, and then Eagles saw me and liked me. “So I headed over there and now I’m into my fourth season with Eagles.”
In just her second season with the Eagles (2020), Zecevic won a club best and fairest. She attributed the success to a role change which suited her strengths better.
“It’s been really good. I think every year I’ve enjoyed it,” Zecevic said. “I started my first year as a defender and knew it wasn’t for me. “Then I got chucked as an inside mid and a forward and I think my game has gone to a whole new level since I’ve been able to be around the ball a bit more.
The versatile talent is well aware of what she is capable of, and what she needs to improve on in 2022 to go to another level.
“I think I’m really good at reading the play, I’m pretty calm when I’ve got the ball,” Zecevic said. “I do handball a lot, I’m known as a handballer. “The thing I want to work on is getting into position to kick more, and another weakness is probably my speed as well.”
Port Adelaide joins three other sides as part of the 2023 AFL Women’s Expansion. Harbouring ambitions to step up to the next level, Zecevic said she “definitely wanted a crack at AFLW” and “would love an opportunity” if it arose. But for now, she is focused on improving under new Eagles coach Narelle Smith.
“Hopefully I get to kick more,” she said. “I really want to start learning off Narelle will be really good. “She’s had a lot of experiences with AFLW, and just getting more knowledge on the game.”
Smith is not the only fresh face with AFLW experience, with the likes of ex-AFLW talents in Leah Kaslar and McKenzie Dowrick joining the Eagles. Having captained or co-captained Brisbane and Gold Coast at the top level, Kaslar in particular brings a wealth of experience.
“Yes we definitely have more experience this year which is really good,” Zecevic said. “She’s (Kaslar) been a little bit busy with the Crows at the moment, but when she comes out, she is such a leader and she lets everyone know where to be and it’s great to learn off here.”
As for the Eagles, Zecevic said her side just needed a little bit of luck on the injury front in order to play finals next season, but was looking forward to the possibilities in 2022 with a new-look side and coaching panel.
“I think we need to stay healthy to be honest,” she said. “I think last year, the last five games we lost about six players. “Then players had to play positions where they normally don’t play. “This year we’ve got new players, a new coach. “I think it’s going to be a new structure and everything, I think it’s going to be a bit more exciting.”