A trio of Peel Thunderbirds achieved their lifetime dreams of becoming AFL players when they were selected by the Fremantle Dockers during the first ever women’s AFL draft on Wednesday.
Tayla Bresland (pick 52), Kira Phillips (45) and Demi Okely (125) all became members of the purple haze, joining Mandurah-native Kim Mickle who was signed by Fremantle as a priority-signing last month.
All three players have been an integral part of the Thunderbirds league team’s makeup for years now, and will play under legendary women’s coach Michelle Cowan at the Dockers.
A Dunsborough local, Bresland said it was an honour to be chosen to play in the inaugural women’s AFL season.
“It’s a huge step up from the state level, but to be part of the first women’s league is an absolute honour,” she said.
“It means a little more to know you’ll be part of the first season.”
The Thunderbirds captain and former best and fairest winner watched a live stream of the draft with her parents, who she said were “stoked” to learn their daughter would play in the AFL.
“They (Bresland’s parents) were over the moon, we’re all really excited about it,” she said.
“It’s a pretty proud moment for our family.”
The centre-half-back is now eager to hit the ground running with the Dockers.
“I’m just keen to get into it – can’t wait,” she said.
The trio’s selection is a monumental milestone for the Peel Thunderbirds Football Club, according to president Ann Fenton.
“Best news ever. We couldn’t be happier for the girls,” she said.
“As a small, local club to have the girls picked up is an absolute gift and for them to have that future in the AFL is amazing.
“Every bit of hard work they have done has led to their selection and we’re absolutely rapt for them.”
The trend of Thunderbirds being drafted is set to continue in the coming years, particularly with the club’s youth girls program flourishing.
Fifteen youth girls players represented WA at some point in 2016, three of which earned all-Australian honours.
“We’re fortunate enough to have some of the best up and coming players in the country ready to replace our drafted stars,” Fenton said.
“Many of our youth girls will be eligible to play for our league side next season, and after that will be looking at getting drafted.”
A total of 23 West Australians were drafted on Wednesday, taking the total amount of WA players in the inaugural women’s AFL season to 37.
Hayley Miller was the first WA player to be drafted. She was chosen by the Dockers with their first selection, pick four.