Kicking on: AFL women's talent combines set to get 2017 competition off to a flyer

The AFL has begun identifying talent for its inaugural national women's competition, set to start in 2017, with a search underway to poach some of Australia's best female sports stars.

Led by Melbourne captain and AFL female ambassador Daisy Pearce, combines similar to those undertaken by potential AFL draftees will run over the next month to encourage talented athletes not registered as Australian footballers to take up the sport.

Daisy Pearce of the Demons tackles Katie Loynes of the Bulldogs during the women's exhibition match at the MCG on Sunday.
The Demons' Daisy Pearce tackles Katie Loynes, of the Bulldogs, during a women's exhibition match at the MCG. Photo: Getty Images

A total of 105 athletes across a wide range of sports were put through their paces at the first of six nationwide talent combines at Whitten Oval on Saturday.

Basketball and netball were the most represented sports, with a high number of Ultimate Frisbee athletes also attending.

Hopefuls were tested on their fitness, agility, skills, decision-making and vertical leap.

The best will be offered a place in female state academies and state league clubs. From there, they will be involved this year in an extended format of the 2015 women's exhibition games as AFL clubs begin gathering data on potential recruits for 2017.


Hopefuls will look to retrace the footsteps of ex-Matildas goalkeeper Brianna Davey, who was taken at pick No.1 by the Western Bulldogs at last year's AFL women's mini-draft. Ex-Opals star Kristen Veal attended the session in Melbourne in what could be a transition from WNBL to AFL.

Pearce, working alongside state female academy coaches, was impressed by the talent on display.

"To see these girls go out on a footy oval, I thought it might have been a bit of a mixed bag, but a lot of these girls had awesome hands, were really strong overhead and good below their knees," she said on Monday.

"What impressed me was most of the girls could kick a drop punt, which shows that a lot of them, even though they haven't been playing footy, must have loved the game at some point."

It is the idea of a national competition that excites Pearce the most, and the opportunities it will create for elite women's sport.

"By having a national AFL competition, with it being a unique sport with 22 girls in a team, it just creates so much opportunity." Pearce said.

"You suddenly think there are six to eight teams in an AFL women's competition and there's 180, nearly 200 positions for girls to play the sport at the elite level, which I just think is so exciting."

Perth will host the next session on Saturday, with Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Hobart to follow in coming weekends.