Interruptions no issue for Fellows in pursuit of draft dream

ALTHOUGH Covid may have delayed the start to her VFLW career, Casey Demons’ Tahlia Fellows has certainly made an impact already in her short career at state league level.

Originally from Melbourne’s south-east, she did not plan on committing to football, but a shortage of players one day at her local club changed everything.

“I went and just joined halfway through the season, and then probably wasn’t going to pursue it but a new local club opened up for junior girls as well,” Fellows retold. “I ended up going there, to Lyndhurst footy club, and then I broke my finger that season, so I didn’t play.

“This was at like 16 or 17, then I managed to play the next season of juniors, and went up to seniors at Cranbourne Football Club. I changed clubs to be with some more friends, and then played a couple of seasons there, until Todd [Patterson, Melbourne AFLW head recruiter] approached me and I began in the VFLW, but it was that Covid year.

“We didn’t actually end up starting that year (2020), and then 2021 I played the first four games but was out for three months from two injuries. That was my first year of VFL and that brings us to this year, I’ve managed to be able to play some games.”

Before joining the Dees, Fellows never thought VFLW was an option, but is now loving life in red and blue.

The 22-year-old is having a great first full season of VFLW football, and currently sits equal ninth on the league goalkicking tally with 11 for the season.

She has already made an impression on those at the next level, invited to be a train-on player with the Melbourne AFLW side, and also playing in last weekend’s Under 23 All Star team against the Under 18 AFLW Academy cohort.

The speedy outside runner impressed in that once-off game, finishing with 16 touches, three marks, five tackles, a clearance, three inside 50s, a rebound 50 and a goal.

Fellows says she enjoyed the experience, and playing in that game gave her more confidence about her draft chances for later this year.

“It was really fun,” she said. “It was a different experience because we all met on the day. It was a whole team of girls coming together just to play and I suppose showcase what talent there is in those few states that were selected.

“It was good to see different styles of play, different strengths, and I suppose play amongst some of the best players in the competition at the moment.”

“I just take it as it comes. Obviously (being drafted) is the goal and that’s the dream, and having these opportunities arise, they’re exciting and I’m pretty grateful that I’m able to be a part of them.”

At this point in her career, Fellows identifies her strengths as speed and her ability to take ground with the ball, while she is working on her aerial presence and tackling pressure.

Though a date is not yet set on this year’s AFLW Draft, Fellows has certainly caught the eye of the right people and will hope her hard work pays off as the next season promises to swing around shortly.

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