Clutch Evans “shocked” by bottom-age feats

YOU wouldn’t hear of a first year player kicking two match-winning goals in one season, but hockey convert Jasmine Evans did exactly that in 2023. The Central District forward was one of her side’s most clutch players along a memorable run to the SANFL Women’s premiership.

Evans’ first moment of magic came in Round 3 against Norwood, where she sharked the ball at close range and converted to put the Bulldogs ahead with under 90 seconds left on the clock. She went on to produce more fond memories against the Redlegs with a three-goal burst in the preliminary final.

Round 6 against North Adelaide saw the 17-year-old kick the sealer in a five-point victory. Of Evans’ 13 majors for the season, nine came in the second half in a testament to her ability to step up in big moments. There were plenty of big moments for the Bulldogs, too.

Such highlights seemed a far cry from where Evans started out, though. Having first converted to Australian rules football at age 15, she quickly made her way through Centrals’ development squad and into the senior side. “Shocked” by her steep rise, Evans has gained confidence with each step.

“I was really shocked that I was debuting in Round 1,” she said. “I thought it wasn’t even going to happen for me that year, so to play every game was a really big achievement for me. I was really happy. Getting into the state team as well, that really was a big achievement.

“The first time we played Norwood and I kicked that last goal I was really happy. I didn’t even think it went in to start with, then everyone got around me. In the first two rounds I wasn’t really happy with how I was playing, so to do that helped me have a bit more confidence.”

Jasmine Evans
Evans after her match-winner against Norwood | Image Credit: Rookie Me Central

Evans cites kicking and decision making as her biggest strengths, with the high-impact player certainly making use of both attributes when it counts. On the flip-side, tackling is an area the young gun is looking to improve on, while also gaining more midfield exposure.

“I feel like sometimes I just go for the tackle and I can’t make it stick, Evans said. “I’ve been working on that and getting my body stronger to be able to do it better.

“At Centrals I haven’t really played on-ball yet, but I feel like I play my best football on-ball. Forward is probably my second [position].”

The Adelaide Crows fan credits her mum with keeping her “accountable” with gym and running duties, and looks up to Erin Phillips having followed the AFLW since its inception. She hopes to reach the same level come year’s end, and is well poised as an AFLW Academy member.

“I was so happy, I did not think [AFLW Academy selection] was going to happen for me,” Evans said. “When I got the phone call I thought it was for my job… but when I got it I was really, really happy.

“[My goal] is to be the best I can be for Centrals and to make sure I keep my body right. Then hopefully I do well at the National Academy and can get drafted.”

Evans and the Bulldogs will kick off their 2024 SANFLW season on March 1 with a road trip to Norwood. She’ll be hoping to recreate her previous exploits against the Redlegs as Central District defends its flag. There’s a state Under 18 title to back up, too.

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