SANFL Women’s Player Focus: Monique Bessen (Sturt)
COMING off a national carnival for South Australia, double bottom-ager Monique Bessen produced her best SANFL Women’s performance to-date during Sturt’s one-point win over West Adelaide. The Double Blues youngster was top three in her side for disposals, marks, tackles, clearances, inside 50s and rebound 50s, as well as taking three of her team’s eight contested marks.
In her debut season, Bessen produced a consistent first seven games, picking up at least 10 disposals in each of her SANFL Women’s matches. Predominantly playing half-forward, Bessen has been rotated on-ball at times, and showed in Sturt’s win over Woodville-West Torrens what she could do. There, Bessen picked up 22 disposals, four marks, six clearances, three inside 50s and booted a goal, but she went to another level upon returning from Under 16s duties with the state team.
2023 SANFL Women’s: Round 10
Sturt 3.9 (27) def. West Adelaide 4.2 (26)
STATS: 26 disposals (19 kicks, 7 handballs), 7 marks (3 contested), 11 tackles, 5 clearances, 5 inside 50s, 3 rebound 50, 1 behind
Monique Bessen raced away to a massive nine-disposal first term with her first touch coming in the opening minute with a free kick. After disposing of the ball she ran forward and won it again, with an effective short kick notching up another statistics. Shortly after, she received a handball and ran on to hit a target at half-forward and by the three minute mark of the first term, she was again spreading well and delivering inside 50.
Bessen won a handful more disposals across the course of the first term, often being in close and firing out to teammates as she tried to get her team up and about. Working hard with skipper Kate Harris, the pair were the dominant ball-winners in the match and produced four-quarter efforts.
The second term was just as fast for Bessen who won the ball immediately in the middle before being tackled. Achieving a rare feat that few others could, she took a contested mark against Lauren Young after gaining front position and kicked inside 50 to a pack. Though it was ultimately intercepted, Bessen stuck to her guns and applied pressure on the exit kick.
The Sturt midfielder not only impacted the game offensively, but also defensively, and laid several tackles across the ground working up and down the wing. She had a couple more kicks inside 50 in the first half, including one that just fell short of the goals.
Bessen’s third term started as her first two had by getting her hands on the ball early. She cracked in and had a quick snap on the outside of the boot up forward but it just missed for her sole score of the game. There were a number of opportunities for the teenager to win more touches than she did, but was often brought down before she had a chance to get the ball out.
Often opposed to fellow State Academy member Asha Dufour, Bessen had a great battle one-on-one on both the inside and outside at times. In the ninth minute mark of the quarter, Bessen marked at half-back and was able to deliver a short, effective kick to Hannah Prenzler on the wing. Rotating out to a wing at times, Bessen’s final impact in the third term was a great reading off hands and clearance on the wing kicking inside 50.
The fourth term was a little quieter from Bessen but she still managed to notch up another five touches, including using hard running to spread from one side of the ground to another and take a strong intercept mark one-on-one. Unfortunately the kick inside 50 was ultimately turned over, but her work rate was still high for late in the game.
She had plenty of unrewarded running in the final 20 minutes, not always getting on the end of chains, but would cover plenty of kilometres in the process. Midway through the term, she would fire off a quick handball in defence, and work in and out of the contest to find a few more touches under pressure to cap off a memorable 26-disposal performance.
CLOSING THOUGHTS ….
Monique Bessen is still a double bottom-ager which means she is not eligible until the 2025 AFL Women’s Draft. Still, the talented Under 16s midfielder/forward is making great strides in her debut season. She is a slick user of the ball, moves well and is very strong overhead for her size, as shown by her three contested marks. Bessen covers the ground well and while she will continue to develop, being included in the Under 18s squad for the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships shows how highly she is rated in the State Academy.