Bowler’s name?! Fleming charges into footy off the long run
“I was mainly just a fast bowler, bowled some outswingers kind of like Dad.”
SHE’S handy with the ball, no matter the code. Oakleigh Chargers gun Jasmine Fleming has a name recognisable to most Australian sports lovers, and her elite pedigree is something which has proven a great support across her diverse sporting journey thus far.
From her father, Damian who played 20 Tests for Australia, to mother Wendy who played high level netball, and elder brother Brayden, who graduated from the Chargers’ program in 2021; there’s plenty of inspiration and experience to feed off – and that’s just among her immediate family.
“My brother is probably the reason I got into footy and cricket back in the day, I just wanted to be like him,” Fleming said. “We’d go out and have a kick with Dad and it would just be us two, I think that started my competitiveness.
“Mum and dad have been great, they’ve supported me with whatever sport I’ve wanted to play. It’s made me feel no pressure at home and it’s been really good to play both footy and cricket. They’ve played a good amount of sport so without saying too much, they guide me through and they’ve never told me what’s wrong or right. I look up to them and they set a great example for me, my brother and my little sister.”
While her father’s hat-trick on Test debut in 1994 has been “on replay” in the Fleming household, the 17-year-old concedes she hasn’t watched as many highlights of her family’s sporting feats “as [she] should”. Along with support from the Oakleigh program, it’s allowed her to pave her own path and thrive in environments she wants to be in.
As for her decision on which sport to pursue, Fleming says she’s “very excited about footy” in the short-term, but has not made a final call just yet.
“I think I’m going to leave the door open in a way,” she said. “I obviously still want to play cricket, if the seasons align then that would be awesome, but you never know. I love both sports equally so it’s a hard decision, but I’m enjoying my footy a lot at the moment so it’s kind of leaning towards that.
“This season I saw an opportunity the Chargers have given me, they’ve been so supportive and let it up to me to make the decision. I think that was really comforting and I just found that I wanted to be around the Chargers girls which is a great environment to be around if you want to be there. It makes you want to play the sport more.”
A Hawthorn supporter in the AFL Men’s, Fleming says it’s “really exciting” that young girls will now be able to dream of playing for any and all of the 18 clubs – including herself, on the eve of expansion. In terms of footballing idols, it’s clear she has a type.
“I loved and still love watching Paddy Dangerfield,” she said. “He’s such a unique, powerful player and I think his burst out of the stoppages is really incredible, so I definitely look up to him.
“Then in the women’s game, Monique Conti. She’s just a sensational player with the way she can burst out of the stoppages too, but also her kicking ability. She’s got the basketball background so she can move around the ground really well too.”
Her own style isn’t too far removed from those two superstars. Fleming’s tenacity and turn of speed are traits which formed somewhat of a secret weapon for Oakleigh in their 2021 finals campaign, which culminated in premiership glory. Despite storming into top five contention for this year’s AFLW Draft, the ever-professional youngster maintains she has plenty to work on.
“I feel like there’s a lot of improvement (to make) in every aspect,” she said. “Even my kicking, I want to get more consistent off longer targets and on my left foot. In the contest, getting my marking up and even handballing under pressure.
“I’m keen to kind of improve on every aspect of my game because I’m someone who really wants to keep on improving in everything, so I’m never really content until I do.
“I think I do play my best football in the mid, but going forward you never know so I’m keeping my options open, I’m happy to play anywhere.”
The opportunity to wax with Australia’s best young female footballers has proven to Fleming that iron sharpens iron. After her feats while being skippered by 2021 number one pick Charlie Rowbottom, Fleming was selected in this year’s AFLW Academy and was a lock for Vic Metro honours.
A medial collateral ligament sprain in her right knee cut her Under 18 Championships short, and robbed her of the chance to play in this year’s Academy showcase. Still, she made the All Australian squad off two outings and could be the ninth Charger to be taken within the top five of the draft (men’s or women’s) since 2019.
With Year 12 studies to complete, a university course in consideration for the future, and the AFLW space growing around her, Fleming says she’s set on remaining in Victoria.
“Especially this year with everything going on, I’m pretty keen to stay in Victoria,” Fleming said. “I love Melbourne and being 17 still I think it’s pretty hard (to move). It is a really difficult draft year with everything going on so at the moment I’m pretty set on Victoria.”