Top Performers: AFLW U16s – Northern Territory
SOME of the top Northern Territory future talent took to TIO Stadium in a two-game series for the 2022 AFL Women’s Under 16 Championships. Though reduced the last couple of years due to the global pandemic, there were still a number of players who stood out for either Team Baird or Team Ponter in the matches. In this piece, we will name a few players who had an influence on the series, and perhaps cast an eye on those to watch for the upcoming NTFL Women’s Premier League.
DOB: 02/01/2006 | Club: St Mary’s | Position: Midfielder/Forward
Stark has had quite a huge couple of months, but not in the typical sense you would expect from a 16-year-old. The hard inside ball-winner became the youngest ever field umpire at the elite level, blowing the whistle during the Essendon-Hawthorn game in Round 1 this season. Though she captured many fans with her performance, Stark’s natural footballing ability stacks up. In the second game for Baird, the young gun amassed 24 disposals – at 75 per cent disposal efficiency – running at 50 per cent contested. When forward, Stark plucked down nine marks – three contested – had four inside 50s and slotted 3.1 in an impressive effort. In game one, she had 24 disposals as well, taking seven marks and booting 3.2 to be the standout player across both games.
DOB: 22/09/2005 | Club: Waratah | Position: Ruck/Forward
As one of the more impressive draft-eligible players next season, Kievit was the focus for the series. After a quieter first game – though she still notched up 16 disposals, three clearances, three inside 50s and three goals – Kievit went huge in game two. Racking up 25 disposals, four marks, eight tackles, 10 hitouts, three clearances, nine inside 50s and three goals in a stellar performance. Standing at 175cm, Kievit has plenty of potential in a key position role, and was one of only two players – along with the now-drafted J’Noemi Anderson – to run out for the Suns Academy in the 2021 AFLW Under 17 Championships last year. For a full rundown on her second game, check out her Player Focus.
DOB: 16/10/2005 | Club: Southern Districts | Position: Midfielder/Forward
One of four Northern Territory representatives who also ran out for the Under 17s Futures game, Berry has proven to not be out of her depth when she steps up to higher levels of football. Though in that game she predominantly played forward – booting a goal from eight touches – when in her home state, Berry is more likely to crack in as a midfielder. She was on the losing end during game one for Team Ponter, picking up the 12 disposals, three marks, two inside 50s and three rebound 50s, before switching to the winning Team Baird for game two. With the extra support around her, Berry helped herself to 17 disposals, three marks, three tackles, two inside 50s, two rebound 50s and a goal. Berry already has experience at Under 18s level two, running out for the Allies against Western Australia where she had six disposals and laid three tackles, but was a star against NSW-ACT with 18 disposals, four marks, six inside 50s and two goals.
DOB: 10/11/2005 | Club: Waratah | Position: Midfielder
A fierce competitor who thrives on winning the hard ball and also getting it forward, Zerafa was another Northern Territory representative who ran out in the Under 17s Futures game. Zerafa had the nine disposals in that match, but was a clear shining light for Team Ponter in the Under 16s series. She topped her side’s disposal counts in both losses, having 19 disposals, four tackles, two clearances, three inside 50s and a goal in game one, before kicking another major in game two while having 20 disposals, two marks, three tackles, two clearances and three inside 50s. Likely to spend plenty of time on-ball next season.
OTHER NT TALENTS NOT IN THE SERIES:
A couple of other names to keep in mind for next year are Grace Whittaker and Kyanne Campbell. Whittaker has been one of the most impressive Territory youngsters when it came to consistent output across representative carnivals. Standing at 171cm, Whittaker does a lot of damage as a forward and can even pinch-hit in the ruck given her athleticism. Born on December 30, Whittaker is just two days early from being a bottom-age draft prospect next year.
Campbell on the other hand was identified as a top NT prospect by the AFLW Academy and included in the squad as a bottom-age talent. Though possessing plenty of raw gifts, particularly around the sticks, Campbell managed the two Allies games where she averaged four disposals and kicked the one goal. It will be a big year for Campbell who will be looking to round out other areas of her game.