Starcevich inspires Williams to take next step

LITTLE did current Brisbane Lions coach Craig Starcevich know, but when he made a visit to the Hervey Bay region in the year leading up to the inaugural AFL Women’s season, he was planting the seed for a then 10-year-old Indiana Williams to follow a path into Australian rules football

Fast forward seven years, and Williams – who turned 18 in June – has now announced herself as a genuine AFLW Draft chance, representing Queensland at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, and earning an AFLW Draft Combine invite.

“I started in 2016,” Williams said of her football journey. “Craig Starcevich came to my primary school to do a talk with us boys and girls and pretty much started from there, got inspired by it. Just followed through, made it through club footy at Hervey Bay Bombers and made it through to the Lions and now Queensland. Now hopefully get drafted.”

The BBrisbane Lions supporter described her time in the Lions Academy as a “thrill” learning off AFLW experienced players such as Emma Zielke, Isabel Dawes and Williams’ inspiration at the top level, Natalie Grider. The teenager said Grider was the player she most looked up to at the AFLW level.

“Just the way she carries herself on and off the field and through recovery,” Williams said. “The one percenters as well.”

Like many children growing up, Williams tried her hand at a range of sports, describing herself as an “all-rounder”. Her sports of choice included touch, Oz-Tag, netball and her number one focus, triathlons. However in the end, it funnelled down to just the once sport – Aussie rules.

“I just loved it way more, enjoyed it,” Williams said. “Just playing with your best friends pretty much and I love the different side of it as well as recovery, eating right, nutrition and getting out there and playing footy.”

The predominant defender often plays unheralded roles in the back 50, but has also been swung forward at times. Her size – 176cm – coupled with her marking and running capacity make her a difficult opponent to try and outpoint. She admits her speed and agility are the areas to improve, with contested marking an evolving area too.

Unlike many teammates, Williams has already graduated from school, and is jus working casually while focusing on her fledgling career. She said it was definitely an advantage to not have to worry about Year 12 studies in her top-age year.

“Trying to juggle too many things at once can get overloading, so just focus on footy while I can now, with the best opportunity in time to give it your all,” Williams said.

As for her goal for 2023, it was a fairly simple one – land on an AFLW list. It would bbe a full-circle moment for the youngster if after hearing Starcevich talk all those years ago, she ended up on his playing list, but Williams is just grateful for an opportunity.

“Definitely get drafted (is my goal) and just keep improving on my craft and doing the best I can to put my best foot forward and just work from there,” Williams said.

“I would like to get picked up from my state, Queensland but I’m happy to go anywhere really.”

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