2024 AFLW Draft player analysis: Emma Stark

WHILE almost all of the 2024 AFL Women’s Draft class will be either kicking back and enjoying the off-season, or getting stuck into preseason, Emma Stark is instead kicking goals, and lots of them. The talented top-ager has booted 29 goals in five games for St Mary’s in the NTFL Women’s Premier League so far in the 2023/24 season.

For those unaware, the Northern Territory Football League runs over the off-season of the traditional Winter timeline. It means for a lot of local football players, they can fit in more match practice rather than time trials and preseason training. A host of players from various state leagues make the trip up to the Top End to compete, often being fly-in, fly-out players.

Stark though is a local, and has risen through the junior ranks to be one of the more promising Territory talents for next year. Starting in the 2018/2019 – aged 12 – through the Under 15s division, Stark exploded onto the scene two years later where she booted 55 goals in 16 games. She would also play in the annual Under 17s Championships match for Team Baird, kicking a goal in a one-point win over Team Ponter.

February 5, 2022 marked Stark’s Premier Division debut for St Mary’s where she kicked three goals against Waratah and would play a further two games at senior level. Earlier that season, Stark kicked 10 goals in an Under 18s game, and would kick six goals in her final Under 18s three games that season.

Stark became a regular representative for her state in 2022, kicking seven goals across two games for Team Baird, while also kicking a goal in each of her other representative matches for the Northern Territory Academy and even the Allies.

While Stark did not get the final squad nod for the Allies once combined with NSW/ACT that year, she would become a household name. She umpired the Essendon-Hawthorn AFL Women’s opener at Marvel Stadium, becoming the youngest elite level field umpire in history.

However she also let her football do the talking for St Mary’s, kicking five goals in 10 games in her first proper full season at senior level in the 2022/23 season. She would also kick a goal in each of Northern Territory’s Talent League games last year.

Fast forward to the current NTFL Women’s Premier League season, and Stark is in unbelievable form. She has slotted multiple goals in each of her five games, including hauls of six, eight and 10. Though she missed out on playing for the Allies last season, Stark did step up to Under 17s Futures level and held her own against the best players in the 2024 AFLW Draft crop.


Stark has naturally been plying her trade as a forward, but is equally capable of stepping up in an outside role nad providing plenty of run and carry. She boasts elite endurance – as you would expect from a field umpire – and loves to take the game on.

She is still developing some areas of her fundamentals, but Stark has a number of natural footballing traits that will hold her in good stead for the year ahead. At this stage Stark would be the second ranked Territory prospect behind first round talent Tatyana Perry and be among the mid-draft chances in what is the strongest draft yet.


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