by Holly Slattery
Bond University’s Imogen Evans and Jasmyn Smith have edged closer to playing out their football dreams with an invitation to test their strength in the 2022 NAB AFLW Draft Combine.
The young AFLW hopefuls are among 106 up-and-coming Australian female players selected from the NAB AFLW National U18 Championships held last month, joining eight other Queenslanders eligible for selection in the AFLW draft for the first time this season.
An invitation to join the first Draft Combine offers a chance to break into the national football league in 2022.
“It’s that one step closer to the ultimate dream of getting drafted,” 18-year-old Evans said.
“I really just want to make a name for myself so in a few years I can be playing footy on the big stage and be able to do what I love at the most elite level.
“It’s super exciting knowing that I’m one of the lucky people to be invited and it gives me that little bit of confidence going into the draft. I’m super happy and very privileged to be given that experience.”
Typically comprising a series of agility, speed and jump testing, the Draft Combine this year will hinge on the results of just one 2km time trial to set the benchmark across the emerging football talent due to a short turnaround between AFLW seasons.
Smith, 17, is looking forward to demonstrating her trademark fitness and pace in the timed run.
“Obviously I was extremely excited when I found out that I’d been invited because it’s another opportunity to show the clubs and teams what I’ve got and what I can bring to the table,” Smith said.
“One of my strong points is my fitness and my running – that’s what I bring to my football games so I hope I can show that off during the testing.
“I’m just really excited to hit the track and give it a go.”
Both women have played AFL from a young age, recently joining the Bull Sharks and Gold Coast Suns Academy to propel their careers in the sport.
After years playing in the Northern Rivers competition before leveling up to QAFLW in 2019, Evans joined Bond University this season to gain the support she needs to take her football to the next level.
“This is my seventh year (playing AFL) and I’m super glad that I moved to Bond because I’ve had heaps of fun and all the girls are awesome,” she said.
“Every time we do something with the academy or (represent) Queensland we’re recognised and supported which makes you feel like they really care about you.
“They also recognise the stresses outside of football and that gives you another dimension to the footy club that you don’t really get anywhere else.”
Evans and Smith will continue to bring their best to the QAFLW competition with the Bull Sharks while the dates and locations of AFLW’s state-based testing days are still to be announced.