Having fun the priority for van der Vlies

FLYING wingers of European origin are often reserved for a different brand of football, but Charlotte van der Vlies is staking her claim in the Aussie code. The 18-year-old was a consistent cog in Oakleigh’s 2021 NAB League Girls premiership, finding a home on the wing and earning Under 17 Vic Metro selection.

In 2022, the top-ager is looking to “have fun” as she strives towards her end goal of being drafted to the AFLW, with the Chargers environment as prosperous as ever after the team and draft success of 2021.

“My goal for this year is to have fun,” van der Vlies said. “It could be my last year at Oakleigh, hopefully if I get picked up. But I really want to enjoy it and do well as a team, that would be amazing, and just to make sure everyone feels really comfortable and loves the team.”

In an individual sense, van der Vlies worked hard over the offseason to improve her running capacity and find an x-factor. It comes as she looks to switch roles heading into her draft eligible campaign, shifting from the outside to use her contested nous at the centre bounces.

“I loved the wing,” she said. “It was really good but I’m hoping to be inside mid for a little bit because I really just like getting in there. But I still really like the wing so I’m happy with whatever.

“I think once we get past the new year I’ll speak about it a bit more (with the coaches) but we’ve spoken a little bit already.

“My strengths are kicking, probably my encouragement as well – I think I can really lift up the team. And probably just my fundamental skills.”

Earning representative and Hawthorn AFLW Academy honours has seen the bubbly prospect form great connections with players across the metropolitan regions. None more so with someone closer to home – the other member of Oakleigh’s version of ‘velcro’ – Lily Hart.

“Lily and I go hand in hand, we’re actually a bit inseparable,” van der Vlies said. “We always have competitions on who’s taller and we’re always together.

“Like Lily, I started footy in 2015 at Blackburn. We got into the Chargers, I think in 2018 and we’ve been with them ever since.

“The (Vic Metro experience) was really good. Meeting so many new girls from all the other teams and the coaching staff, it’s really good just to get a new perspective and to play with other girls that are also lovely and good at footy.”

van der Vlies and her fellow Chargers started their 2022 NAB League Girls campaign with a win over Northern Knights, and have their second chance to impress on Sunday in another all-metro clash against Sandringham Dragons.

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