Tasmanian and Launceston star Daria Bannister will fulfil her NAB AFL Women’s (AFLW) dream, with the Western Bulldogs selecting the inside midfielder with Pick 19.
The talented on-baller was the only Tasmanian picked in yesterday’s draft and will link up with fellow Tasmanian Ellyse Gamble to play for the Bulldogs in season 2018. The selection of Bannister means there are now five Tasmanians on AFLW lists.
The Launceston premiership player said it was a dream come true.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever have the opportunity to play football at an AFL level.
“Since it’s commencement it has been my dream and I have been working so hard to get myself in a position where I could possibly get drafted and to have that happen yesterday was just unbelievable,” she said.
After a fantastic year with Launceston, Tasmania and the Allies, which saw her rewarded with All Australian selection, Bannister was long touted as Tasmania’s best chance in this year’s draft. Despite many considering her as a top end talent, Bannister was stunned to hear her name read out at Pick 19.
“I was in complete shock. I thought if it was going to happen it would have been late in the draft and to see KB (Katie Brennan) come out and say my name at pick 19 took me by complete surprise.
“I knew the Bulldogs were interested through conversations with other clubs but I hadn’t heard anything from the club directly so really didn’t expect them to pick me up. I trained with them earlier in the year for a week and that was an amazing experience and I learnt so much so I am so excited to head back to the kennel and start the hard work with the girls.”
With expectation and dreams of an AFLW career, it has been a big week and a special time for the new Bulldog.
“I tried to keep myself occupied. I went to the gym in the morning and then just sat at home with a couple of friends and just prayed my name would get called out. As soon as my name got called out I just started shaking, it didn’t feel real until the club called me to congratulate me.
“The amount of support has been amazing. I have had family, friends, coaches, teachers, teammates and other clubs contact me congratulating me and offering support. It’s quite overwhelming to have that many people show you that they care.
“It’s been fantastic and I couldn’t thank them all enough.”
Like many realising their dreams in the AFLW in the last two years, Bannister only set her sights on football in recent years with football emerging as an option for her in her late teens.
“Football for me wasn’t really on the radar up until a couple of years ago. I had played a couple of games in high school and was approached by Brett Sweeney at the Launceston Football club and he asked me to come along and train with the girls last year.
“I did and absolutely loved it, I continued to play netball at that stage and then this year decided to focus on just football. Since the start of AFLW, I knew I wanted to be playing at that level. I want to be able to push myself and compete at the highest level I can.”
Bannister will arrive at the Kennel at the end of November to commence pre-season training.
“I’m itching to get over there and meet all the girls and coaches and start training. They picked up some great players in the draft and it’s going to be a really excited club to be around this year and I cannot wait to be a part of that.”
The opportunity still exists for more Tasmanians to join AFLW lists with free agency open until 5:00PM today (Thursday 19 October 2017), followed by the rookie draft on Friday (20 October 2017).