Clark counts on “incredible” experiences to learn

TASMANIAN Georgia Clark is one of the more impressive key forward talents in the 2023 AFLW Draft pool and is primed for a big year as she hopes to reach the elite level.

In the absence of injured teammate Brooke Barwick (knee), Clark will be the Devils’ sole AFLW Academy member in the Apple Isle’s Coates Talent League Girls’ side and be a key player to watch this season.

The contested marking forward has been known for working up the ground and providing a target, forming a bond with fellow tall Bellah Parker inside the forwardline.

While Parker conceded Clark “has more of the legs to do that up the ground work”, Clark said she always enjoyed searching for a Parker lead when at the top of 50.

“I know whenever I’m out there in the forwardline I just look up and immediately like ‘where’s Bellah? I’m going to spot her up’,” Clark said. “I feel like we have great chemistry in the forwardline, I get it top of 50 and she’s always there to spot up.”

Clark did not just end up in the Devils’ forwardline by chance, despite only taking up football once she reached high school. Breaking glass ceilings by representing The Map at Under 15s level, Clark was quickly identified as a player to watch, and she kept rising through the ranks. Her journey began in Grade 7 when a number of her friends invited her to give the sport a try.

“I’d grown up with my dad playing footy and always wanted to play but just never started,” Clark said. “Second year in Grade 8 I got to play in the state team, I was really lucky and it was an incredible experience. I got to play for the girls Under 15 Tassie team which was really incredible.

“From there I just got so many opportunities and started in the Devils three years ago and I was lucky to get to play Round 1 young. Getting to play at a high levels confirmed my love for footy and wanted me to keep pushing to achieve the highest I can and push myself to wherever that may lead.”

It only kept rising from there. Clark described her journey as “incredible” having donned the Allies jumper last season, before playing in the Under 17s Futures match at GMHBA Stadium.

Clunking five marks and booting two goals from 16 disposals, Clark showed she was more than capable of thriving in the company of the best players from across the nation.

AFLW Academy head coach Tarkyn Lockyer and the selection panel agreed, naming Clark as one of 30 impressive top-agers to join the Academy and take part in pre-season camps.

“It’s a very cool opportunity just getting to Academy and training, the standard’s so high, you just learn so much from watching all the girls from around the country and their intensive training,” Clark said. “Their purpose with everything they do both on and off-field. You can take so much away from that.”

From the camp, Clark decided she would write down and set goals she wanted to achieve in 2023, no matter how big or small. The Tasmanian top-ager is focused on improving her athleticism – mainly her speed and agility – as well as her ground ball work and opposite left side.

A Melbourne supporter who followed in her dad’s footsteps in that regard, Clark looks up to Tayla Harris for her ability to dominate in the air and win the ball consistently.

She watched on as the Demons went on to win the AFL Women’s premiership last season, demonstrating what the forward loves most about her football.

“My favourite part of footy is every week and every success you get to share that with a whole team,” Clark said. “Rather than individual sports where you get that glory by yourself, but in footy it’s always a team thing and you get so much more. It’s such a good feeling being able to share that with others.”

It is a given that every Tasmanian draft prospect will ultimately have to move out from home, though Clark is unlikely to have trouble finding suitors. The AFLW Academy forward could align with North Melbourne, or keep her options open be it in Victoria or across the nation.

“At the moment I’m just kind of in the mindset where it would just be incredible to get to that level,” Clark said. “I’m open to anything at the moment.”

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