Tenacious Jet ready to take off after Grand Final success

CAPTAINING Western Jets to a maiden NAB League Grand Final was a career highlight for Charlotte Baskaran, but the draft hopeful is set for more good news in the coming weeks.

The tenacious inside midfielder is tipped to go in the early Victorian selections of the NAB AFLW Draft on June 29.

A former national-level 400m runner, the year 12 Maribyrnong Sports Academy student has been in the Jets' pipeline since she was just 13.

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"I stopped Auskick because there were no girls teams, and I started athletics, which is where my running background comes in, and I did that for four years. I really loved it and got to national level," Baskaran told womens.afl.

Charlotte Baskaran gets a kick away during the U18 AFL Championship match on April 22, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"Then my mates from athletics decided to join at Aberfeldie (in Melbourne's north-west), so I thought I'd go down. The first training session, I loved it straight away, so many new people and the game and skills, I loved picking up the footy and having a kick. 

"Myself and Montana (Ham, fellow top pick) both got scouted when we were really young. The first season, we were only allowed to train, not play, and then the next year we entered the competition."

Baskaran – who likes to base her game on Richmond superstar Monique Conti – averaged an impressive 27.6 disposals in her 10 NAB League games this season, and her tackling around stoppages is a particularly strong attribute, averaging 6.6.

Charlotte Baskaran was named captain of the 2022 NAB League Girls Team of the Year. Picture: AFL Photos

Her running background has helped with her endurance over other players, particularly given the past two years has seen little footy played in Victoria.

"My main event was the 400m, I went to Sydney to compete in the nationals and made the final in that race. I pretty much did a lot of the middle-distance events, the 800m as well, but my sprinting was also very good, so that's what helps me out on the field as well," Baskaran said.

"I loved it, the routine and the training is something that helps me now. But I think being so individual, the training and repetitive running, that when I transferred over to footy, I loved the team environment and all the girls being there to support you. 

"Coming to footy training, I was always happy and smiling ready to see the girls and coaches."

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Baskaran is close friends with another star of the NAB League, Dandenong Stingray Amber Clarke. The pair faced off in the NAB League Grand Final, which the Jets won with the last kick of the night.

"I met Amber through athletics, and she's someone I've known for quite a while now. We'd always meet at state athletics and would run against each other. She was one of my biggest competitors back then, because we'd always put in the hard work and I know she trains all the time and is really determined," she said.

"So to see her follow through athletics and into footy is really cool, because she's someone I could potentially be friends with for a very long time. She's a really great person, I look up to her as well as a player, she has lots of good skills and is very talented."

Dandenong Stingrays' Amber Clarke and Western Jets' Charlotte Baskaran ahead of the 2022 NAB League Girls season. Picture: AFL Photos