While torrential rain forced the transfer of grounds for the Kickstart and All Nations Carnival, Shepparton turned on bright, sunshine filled days for the 2016 Female Diversity Championships where more than 200 players of Indigenous and multicultural backgrounds took to the field to showcase their skills and proudly represent their state.

Coached by Guy Grey, this was the third year Tasmania fielded a standalone team at the championships with the 2016 team featuring 12 debutants.

AFL Tasmania Football Development Manager Barry Gaby said, “Selection has been made with an eye not only to the championships this year but to the future and we look forward to seeing some of the younger players in the squad featuring in coming years.”

In contrast to previous years the majority of girls selected are regular players in formalised female junior and senior rosters around the state.

“It is exciting to see the talent coming through the newly established pathway for girls and Tasmania was competitive against the other states finishing fourth on the ladder,” said Barry Gaby.
After outstanding performance at the Championships Mia King was awarded MVP for Tasmania and was recognised along with Sian Beaton with selection in the Woomera squad (the national U16 Indigenous program).

Day 1
WA 9.4 (58) d TAS 1.0 (6)
GOALS: Melissa Smith
BEST: Mia King, Lela Spotswood, Courtney Sharman, Melissa Smith
The Tasmanians were under a barrage of pressure from a strong Western Australian attack but they still managed to keep the team to the West to just three goals in the first half. The team in green kicked their sole goal for the game in the first half, via a beautiful passage of play in the final minutes before the break. A stoic performance from the Tasmanian defenders looked like it would be able to withhold everything the Western Australians threw at it in the second half. Led by Elsie Watts, Lela Spotswood and Maighan Singleton Tasmania kept clearing the ball from the defensive fifty but the persistent attack from Western Australia soon broke down the best efforts of the team’s defence. Everything went right for the Western Australian team, when even a miss-kick from Shakeeda Pickett was picked up by Nakeesha Miniter who sent it home. Western Australia gained all the momentum and opened up the game to kick six second half goals and take an outstanding win by 52 points.

NT 5.4 (41) d TAS 1.0 (6)
GOALS: Cara Watkins
BEST: Mia King, Tahlia Strong, Nicholla Clarke
The pace of the Northern Territory side continued to be exceptional despite playing in their second game of the day. Freda Purantatameri spectacularly dodged three opponents to send the ball inside fifty as her side streamed to a 16-point half-time lead. But the Tasmanians were fired up after an address from Coach Guy Grey, gaining the centre clearance to score the first goal of the second half within a minute. Northern Territory regrouped after the early goal and nailed a major shortly after to stall the opposition’s momentum. Ursula Tipungwuti produced a commendable performance full of superb tackles and shepherds to help her side to a 35-point victory.

Day 2
NSW/ACT 1.4 (10) d TAS 1.0 (6)
GOALS: Lela Spotswood
BEST: Lela Spotswood, Mia King, Nicholla Clarke
A blistering second half from Tasmania saw the side nearly pinch their first win of the Kickstart tournament when taking on NSW/ACT. Frantic calls were coming from the Tasmanian bench as the ball hovered around centre half forward in the final minutes of the game. But on the last line of defence Rheanin Booth took a strong mark in the goal square to ensure her side would take victory. Erin Naden backed up stunning performances on the first day with another blistering game. She showed her class with an outstanding run through the centre of the ground shrugging off a host of opposition players to send the ball inside fifty, helping her team 4 point win.

TAS 4.7 (31) d SA 0.2 (2)
GOALS: Lela Spotswood 4
BEST: Lela Spotswood, Mia King, Maddi Gardner
There were jubilant scenes as Tasmania took home its first win of the championship against its South Australian rivals. Both teams covered plenty of ground in the opening half as the ball went end to end with the states equally strong in the backline. But the momentum swung in Tasmania’s favour, with The Map a difficult force to stop once they started scoring. Mia King played a pivotal role in the side’s blistering second half. Gaining countless clearances and finishing off with a spectacular goal from the right pocket, King’s Tasmanian teammates celebrated their glorious 29-point victory.

Day 3
TAS 3.0 (18) d VIC 2.3 (15)
GOALS: Lela Spotswood, Kaitlyn Johnson, Cara Watkins
BEST: Mia King, Lela Spotswood, Emily Doig
Victoria have not had the most successful Kickstart tournament but they pushed hard to take the early lead against Tasmania. Scoring the sole goal in the first half, the Vics were looking to defend a nine-point lead but the Tasmanian’s accuracy would prove their greatest asset. Kicking three straight in the second half they defeated the Victoria by just three points.

QLD 5.4 (34) d TAS 3.1 (19)
GOALS: Brittany Grice, Kaitlyn Johnson, Lela Spotswood,
BEST: Mia King, Lela Spotswood, Courtney Sharman
Tasmania had plenty of opportunity to cause an upset over its Queensland rivals in the Kickstart tournament. The Map had plenty of the ball in their forward fifty late in the first half but just could not capitalise on the possession. Instead competition heavyweight Queensland used their chances more efficiently, adding on two goals in the final five winners to take the game by 15 points.

LADDER
1 WA
2 QLD
3 NT
4 TAS
5 VIC
6 NSW/ACT
7 SA

TEAM
1 Caitlin Denny – n/a
2 Sian Beeton – Tamar Valley
3 Annabella Catlin – Latrobe
4 Tahlia Strong – Claremont
5 Kaitlyn Johnson – Wynyard
6 Emily Doig – Wynyard
7 Mia King – East Launceston
8 Courtney Sharman – Launceston
9 Melissa Smith – Launceston
10 Brittany Grice – Launceston
11 Maddie Gardner – Launceston
12 Paige Maynard – Launceston
13 Maighan Singleton – Ulverstone
14 Lela Spotswood – Launceston
15 Nicholla Clarke – Launceston
16 Cara Watkins – Burnie
17 Bronte Dare – Burnie
18 Elsie Watts – Launceston