In just a matter of months, Elisabeth Georgostathis transformed herself from a ball-winning NAB League Girls defender for the Western Jets into an influential goalkicker during the Western Bulldogs’ run to the VFLW Grand Final.
The 17-year-old (turning 18 on October 17th) backed up a 2018 NAB League Girls season in which she won Western’s best-and-fairest award with a prolific campaign as the club’s captain in 2019.
Georgostathis averaged 20 disposals, five rebound-50s and four tackles per game from all nine matches, leading the Jets in all three of those categories and subsequently earning selection in the NAB League Girls Team of the Year.
After next representing Vic Metro in the 2019 NAB AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships, the VU Western Spurs (Northern FNL) product made her Swisse Wellness VFL Women’s debut for the Bulldogs – in a position she’d never played before.
Six goals in seven VFLW games later and Georgostathis had made her versatility and adaptability clear to AFLW club recruiters ahead of October 22’s NAB AFLW Draft.
“I was really nervous for my first VFLW game,” Georgostathis recalled at last week’s NAB AFLW Draft Combine, where she recorded the fastest time of all participants in the agility test.
“It was in Ballarat at Mars Stadium, which was one of the biggest stadiums I’d ever played at. We got the win against NT Thunder and I kicked a goal. That was a really good feeling, because everyone got around me.
“I also was pretty happy with the game I kicked three goals in (three weeks later in a win against Richmond). Never have I played forward besides this year and it was good to learn how to play the role.”
Georgostathis went on to boot another two majors in the Bulldogs’ elimination-final victory over the Tigers and loomed as a wildcard for the team inside 50 in the VFLW Grand Final against Collingwood.
As it happened, the Magpies’ defensive structure continually denied Georgostathis and her fellow forwards quality scoring opportunities in a 37-point loss, but there were still positives to be taken from the day.
“I’ve never experienced anything like the Grand Final,” Georgostathis said. “It was really cool, especially when they brought out the banner and the fireworks pre-game.
“Although we didn’t get the win, I’m still so happy I had the experience of playing in a grand final. At the end of the day, Collingwood played a good game and we just couldn’t keep up with them.”
Georgostathis’ conversion in front of goal late in the VFLW campaign is just one product of an off-season spent on improving her deficiencies.
“I think this year I’ve really developed my skills,” Georgostathis said. “My kicking hasn’t always been my strongest, but I think I’ve definitely improved on it.
“I really pushed hard to get here. I did a lot of running in the off-season and I definitely practised kicking, getting the ball in my hands every day.
“My goal this year was to show everyone what I can do with the ball and my ability to find the ball. I hoped I would be here at the Combine and I still hope I get drafted.”
NAB LEAGUE ‘FAST FIVE’ QUESTIONS
Most influential person on your football at Western:
“Anthony Tang. He’s been the osteo for a couple of years and this year he also helped with coaching. He’s been a big help throughout my journey and has supported me in every step.”
Most valuable lesson learned in the NAB League:
“Just to cherish and enjoy every moment. We won three games this year – more than we’ve ever won (only one across 2017-18) – and that feeling of the whole team being happy and the bond we shared after them was incredible.”
Teammate you’ve most enjoyed sharing the NAB League journey with:
“I don’t think I can pinpoint anyone. Every girl at the Jets supported me as well, especially the leadership group – Cleo Saxon-Jones and Izzy Grant. They helped me to captain the team.”
Most difficult NAB League opponent:
“I can’t really say! I played mostly floating in the back line, so I didn’t stick to one player or get tagged in any of the games.”
Most memorable NAB League moment:
“Probably the wins we had and the incredible feeling afterwards. The smiles on everyone’s faces were amazing. We didn’t know how the song went for any of the games we won this year and it just ended up with us screaming.”
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