License article

Former Opal Kristen Veal tests herself at Women's AFL talent search

Former Canberra Capitals and Opals guard, Kristen Veal, is still focused on finishing the WNBL season with the Melbourne Boomers, but the next stage of her career could be playing in the inaugural Women's AFL.

Veal was one of about 150 hopefuls who underwent testing at the female talent search in Melbourne on Saturday.

It was the first of five sessions being led by Melbourne captain Daisy Pearce around Australia over about a month, although there is not one being held in Canberra.

Successful participants will go into academy squads around the country.

Veal only started playing Australian football last year, after her contract with WNBL club the Canberra Capitals ran out.


She played in a premiership with the Eastlake Demons, but has relocated to Melbourne to take up a high-performance coaching role with Basketball Victoria.

Having grown up in South Australia, the 34-year-old said she would have loved to play the game at a younger age, but her basketball commitments came first.

She said a knee issue, which she has been carrying through the WNBL season, would rule out any chance of playing in the now annual Melbourne-Western Bulldogs clashes.

Belconnen Magpies onballer Heather Anderson and former Belco player Elise O'Dea played last year.

But the AFL plans to introduce a Women's AFL competition next year and Veal would love to be involved.

"They've got exhibition games this year, like they've been running for the last couple of years, with the hope for next year to put in some kind of women's league," Veal said.

"That's probably a little bit more realistic, given my age and my football inexperience, I think probably wouldn't be looking to that this year.

"In all honesty I'm just trying to squeeze all I've got out of the legs I've got playing football or basketball or whoever will have me."

But the benefits from the talent search were not just limited to the possibility of playing in the Women's AFL.

Veal also took plenty from it from a coaching side as well, which she hopes to be able to utilise in her Basketball Victoria role.

She also took part in a coaching exchange with Tennis Australia last weekend to further her development.

"I'm starting to get involved in these things and seeing them from two perspectives - as an athlete, but also as coach - and just be able to sit back and see how they ran a mass testing, the amount of staff they had there, the amount of equipment," Veal said.

"It was really impressive. I think we can take great things from other sports and bring them back to basketball. That's a big advantage as well."