2024 SANFLW awards night preview

TONIGHT a new – or in many people’s opinions – repeat SANFL Women’s Best and Fairest winner will be crowned, as the best and brightest talent in South Australian women’s football descends on Adelaide Oval for its night of nights. In this article we take a look at those in contention, and what could be expected from tonight’s awards ceremony.


You would be hard pressed to find anyone not suggesting Glenelg star midfielder Jessica Bates will be awarded the honour for the second time in three years. Injury put a line through her final two games of the season, but given her season prior to that, it is fair to say that ‘3 Votes – J. Bates’ will be a common utterance at tonight’s proceedings. If the count is tight with a couple of rounds to go, then it will spruik interest, but there’s every chance she is a runaway winner and polls a record amount of votes.

Her biggest threats for votes are the AFLW players at the start of the season, before Jo Miller and Violet Patterson might challenge her for some in second half of the season. Still, hard to see her not putting the award away early.


Once again in most people’s eyes the biggest challenger is South Adelaide onballer Nikki Nield. The natural ball-winner and incredible tackler has been a huge inclusion for the Panthers since returning from Western Australia. The 23-year-old did play all 14 games this season so that is a tick in her box, but unlike Bates who is almost a default option for three votes in games, Nield will have no shortage of competitors for votes within her own team.

The likes of fellow midfielder Jordann Hickey and ruck Soriah Moon will notch up their fair share of votes, as will the eye-catching Caitlin Couch. Given she shared the leading goalkicker award, one would imagine that amongst her bags of three and four goals that Emily Brockhurst should also poll fairly well.


When looking at potential challengers, the other three main players are the other top five disposal winners, but all for different reasons. Retiring Central District skipper Shelby Smith has unluckily finished runner-up twice in this count, and it would not be unreasonable to think she could go for a three-peat in that regard. The inside midfielder has sustained excellence at this level, and has been one of the best performed players – perhaps the most consistent – in the last five years.

West Adelaide onballer Zoe Venning has been a notable vote-getter in the past and should poll plenty of votes once again. The question will come with West losing more games than they won, how many major votes she could get. Still, Venning should top the West Adelaide count and be there in the finish.

The third dark horse is talented top-ager India Rasheed, who like Bates missed two games. That will hurst her overall count, but she should rack up the votes given her eye-catching gamestyle and ability to turn games on their head. The Double Blues finished with a 7-7 record so perhaps not always the maximum votes, and Rasheed will need to compete with Isobel Kuiper for votes.


Norwood is through to a preliminary final, though trying to work out who gets the votes will be tricky, as one of the most even teams across the board. Expect wing Tahlita Buethke and midfielder/forward Jade Halfpenny to find plenty, while in the second half of the season in particular, Kiana Lee will storm home with a flurry of votes.

Like Norwood, Woodville-West Torrens will have a lot of players sharing votes around and will be tricky to calculate who will receive them. Midfielder Grace Martin‘s early season form should see her take a lead before being trialled in other roles, while skipper Annie Falkenberg will likely be the highest polling defender in the count. Ruck Leah Cutting had some huge games and should be among the mix.

North Adelaide simply did not win enough games for a player to poll votes to win the award, but of those in there, retiring leader Jess Edwards would be a good shout, having polled consistently in the past. Kristi Harvey should get a few, while Aprille Crooks and Julia Clark might also pick up some votes.


Winner: Jess Bates (Glenelg)
2nd: Nikki Nield (South Adelaide)
3rd: Shelby Smith (Central District)


Round 1: Poppy Scholz (Glenelg)
Round 2: India Rasheed (Sturt)
Round 3: Violet Patterson (Glenelg)
Round 4: Zara Walsh (Sturt)
Round 5: Jasmine Evans (Central District)
Round 6: Monique Bessen (Sturt)
Round 7: Lucy Boyd (West Adelaide)
Round 8: Grace Martin (WWT Eagles)
Round 9: Kiana Lee (Norwood)
Round 10: Laela Ebert (North Adelaide)
Round 11: Layla Vizgaudis (South Adelaide)
Round 12: Emma Charlton (South Adelaide)
Round 13: Mel Anderson (South Adelaide)
Round 14: Charlotte Riggs (Central District)

There is no shortage of talent in this group, and while the last three years have been fairly easy choices – Lauren Young, Shineah Goody and Piper Window of which two also won the overall league best and fairest – 2024 is a little different. Sturt’s Rasheed should be favourite and poll the most votes in the count. She had a wonderful season and would be very deserving of it.

The likes of Patterson and Central District duo Jasmine Evans and Charlotte Riggs are also in Team of hte Year contention, as is the older Lee. Poppy Scholz was terrific in the games she played for the Bays, but did only manage the seven matches.

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