QUEENSLAND’s future crop of talent is looking bright after the 15 and Under Girls went undefeated to take out the School Sport Australia (SSA) Championships late last month. Hosted for the first time in three years, five states and one territory played in a round-robin tournament to determine the best state at that level. In what was a highly competitive grade, four of the states had between two to three wins from the five games.
Queensland shone though, running out victorious in each of its five matches to top the table clearly from Western Australia and South Australia who both had three wins from five games. The Sunshine State kicked off its campaign with a statement-defining win over powerhouses Victoria by 33 points, before smashing the ACT to the tune of 143 points. They accounted for South Australia by 34 points, defeated New South Wales by 30, and in a battle of the top two sides to determine the overall winner, got past Western Australia by eight points.
Queensland had a whopping seven All-Australian representatives in the 25-player squad including the overall carnival best and fairest winner Alanna Welsh. The other half a dozen players were Ava Usher, Sunny Lappin, Mia Geere, Dekota Baron, Annabelle Foat and Siena Burnham who earned representative honours. The dominance by the Queensland side is promising for the Gold Coast Suns AFL Women’s side in particular, who will bring through many of the players into their respective Academies. Usher and Welsh (Burleigh Bombers), Lappin (Carrara Saints), Foat and Burnham (Broadbeach Cats), Baron (Springwood Pumas) have all been named in the Suns’ Under 16s squad, while Wilston Grange youngster Geere was the sole Lions region talent.
Western Australia’s performance against Queensland was admirable, with the Sandgropers’ only other loss coming against South Australia to the tune of 10 points. They also took care of both New South Wales (40 points) and ACT (116), and claimed a 10-point win over Victoria. Among the West Australian All-Australians were a trio of players who have already projected as top-end talents for 2025, with Evie Cowcher (Peel Thunder), Olivia Wolmarans (Subiaco) and Mia Russo (West Perth) all earning spots, as did Maya Louvel-Finn (East Fremantle) and Carys D’Addario (Swan Districts).
South Australia also finished on three wins from five games, with losses to Queensland and New South Wales blemishing the record that was highlighted by wins over Western Australia and Victoria, as well as a huge victory over ACT. The Croweaters also had five representatives in the All-Australian Team, with Chloe Tonkin, Stephanie Tredwell, Jordan Horne, Holly Tralaggan and Kyah Jaffer all named in the team. Port Adelaide Next-Generation Academy (NGA) representatives in Tredwell and Tonkin (West Adelaide) and Jaffer (Norwood) have previously shone donning the teal. Tralaggan is a Central District talent who has been shining in the Barossa, while Horne is the younger sister of recent number one draft pick, Jason Horne-Francis and is forging her own path to the top.
Victoria came away from the championships with just the two wins – back-to-back over New South Wales and ACT – but went down to Western Australia and South Australia in the final two games. For many NAB League Girls watchers, it would be no surprise to see Gippsland Power’s Ella Stoddart make the All-Australian team. She was joined in the side by Siena Sharp, Chloe Brown, Alex McBride-Loan and Tayla McMillan.
New South Wales had the two All-Australian representatives following their 2-3 record from the five-game carnival. Defeating South Australia in an upset as the highlight of the week, Grace Tracey and Rose Bell both made the All-Australian side. Though copping a lot of heavy losses as would be expected by the far smaller talent pool within the nation’s capital, the ACT also had an All-Australian representative in the form of Isla Weincke out of Belconnen.