AFL Women's: Peel Thunderbirds draft hopefuls eye spot in national competition

A string of Peel Thunderbirds will be hoping to hear their names called when the AFL Women’s competition holds its second draft on Wednesday, October 18.

Youngster Kate Bartlett headlines a handful of Thunderbirds searching for a spot on an AFLW list, following a breakout 2017 which saw her star in Peel’s league team.

The 18-year-old kick-started her season when she bagged a five-goal haul in Peel’s round three shellacking of East Perth.

Her responsibilities playing for WA’s state side meant she would go on to play just six games for the Thunderbirds across the season, but she made her impact known finishing the year with 13 goals.

Bartlett also earned all-Australian honours for the second time in 2017, following a brilliant carnival for WA at the national under 18s championships, which included a seven-goal bag in the opening game.

Her impressive resume mounts a strong case to be drafted to the AFL Women’s, according to Peel Thunderbirds coach Mark Fenton.

“She’s a goalscorer, and in a competition like AFL Women’s it’s goal scorers that can break games open and be the difference,” he said.

“You give her a set shot from 35, 40 metres out and you know it’s going in.

“That’s probably something Fremantle could have used a little more of in the AFL Women’s last year, a bit more firepower.

“Kate’s a raw talent and a really good runner as well – she’d bring a strong dynamic to any AFL Women’s team she gets drafted to.”

Fellow Thunderbird Ebony Dowson also has a chance to find her way into the national competition on the back of an impressive year at Peel.

“[Dowson’s] got a really good footy brain, her smarts are a big asset to her game and that’s something that might work in her favour come draft time,” Fenton said.

“She’s a favourite at our club – very coachable and a leader on the field.”

Ebony Dowson had an impressive 2017 for Peel. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

Ebony Dowson had an impressive 2017 for Peel. Photo: Marta Pascual Juanola.

Georgia Perry, Abby Barnden and Kerrilee Brown will also be hoping to hear their names called at the draft.

The Thunderbirds contributed three players to the inaugural AFLW season, with Tayla Bresland, Demi Okely and Kira Phillips drafted by Fremantle.

Bresland was particularly impressive in her first year as a Docker, doing enough to secure a contract for a second season.

“As a club, we’re really proud to be able to contribute players to a competition like AFLW,” Fenton said.

“The girls have come through our pathways and really earned all of the accolades they get.

“Really we’re just happy for them to be able to achieve their goals and play on a national platform.”

The Thunderbirds will also look to contribute to the 2018 AFLW draft, when up and coming stars Sabreena Duffy and Courtney Hodder reach the required age.