Cool customer Kustermann learning on the job

SHE may have been one of only two bottom-agers fielded in South Australia’s Under 19 side last year, but West Adelaide’s Keeley Kustermann continues to learn on the job. The promising defender has gotten comfortable being the younger one among each squad, taking the opportunity to feed off more experienced teammates along the way.

“I like being able to play with the older girls,” Kustermann said. “I learn so much from them and being the young one I’ve always been able to get plenty of feedback, so it’s good.”

Part of the 17-year-old’s footballing education has been an early initiation into senior football at SANFLW level, and selection in this year’s AFLW Academy. At West Adelaide, she’s building on the versatility she showed as a midfielder in stints last year. With the Academy, she’s getting a taste of what it takes to make the grade at the next level.

“At Westies I’m in defence so that’s what I’ve been learning,” she said. It (has been) nice to learn a different role so I can be a bit more versatile and it’s good learning from different coaches and players in that role.

“I think I’ll be going between both positions but definitely developing my midfield (craft) this year because it’ll just be nice to learn both roles and be able to play in both positions.

“(AFLW Academy selection) was exciting. It’s great, the opportunity to learn so much and see what it’s like to be at the higher level, what it takes and all the people I’ll be able to learn from.”

Keeley Kustermann in representative colours last year

The heights of state and national honours have seemingly come quickly for Kustermann, but not when you consider that her footballing journey started all the way back in Under 8s. It could have been even earlier too, but the youngster had some convincing to do first.

“I was always into netball and athletics from my sisters, then one day I just asked dad if I could play footy,” Kustermann said. “He didn’t really want me to, he had said no to my older sister. We went out to Mitchell Park which was his local club when he was growing up and the Under 8s boy’s team was a bit short on numbers, so he said ‘alright, you can have a go’.

“I played there for a couple of years but when I got older wasn’t allowed to play with the boys anymore and went over to Goody (Goodwood) Saints because they had girl’s teams. I played there for a few years and then about four seasons ago I started training with the Westies League team and have been there ever since.”

Having also gotten her elder sister out to training this year, Kustermann continues to break new ground. With “exciting” AFLW expansion on the horizon and plenty still to work on in her game, being drafted and achieving the ultimate team success with West Adelaide are the main goals Kustermann has her sights set on next.

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