From Auskick to likely No.1 pick: Ham's dream close to reality

SHE'S been front and centre of AFLW news for the past week, so who exactly is prospective number one pick Montana Ham?

The 180cm midfielder from the north-western suburbs of Melbourne has nominated the New South Wales draft pool ahead of Wednesday's event for university (she wants to study physio) and lifestyle reasons.

"To be drafted would mean the world to me, it's always been my childhood dream, ever since I was four when I started playing," Ham told womens.afl

"I would always look up to the boys and I always thought I'll play in the AFL one day because there wasn't girls teams, but seeing the women's game grow like this, this just made my dream become even more reachable."

AFLW draft class 2022: Montana Ham

01:28 May 23. 2022. 3:00 PM

Get to know the Vic Metro midfielder ahead of the 2022 NAB AFLW Draft

Ham followed her two older brothers into Auskick and junior footy at Hillside, before moving to Keilor girls' side at 12.

Like fellow top prospect Charlotte Baskaran, Ham was scouted by NAB League side Western Jets at just 13. Far from being intimidated at training alongside 18-year-olds (they couldn't play NAB League until they were 15), Ham thrived with the early exposure to top-level footy.

"It was actually really good. We were getting to model and watch the older girls and really learn from them and draw off their knowledge of the game," Ham said.

"I think it really helped us grow our skills from a young age as well.

"I played basketball when I was young, I did little nippers, which is like a surfing competition (driving to Torquay every Saturday morning) and I also did netball for a couple of seasons. But none of them took my love as much as footy, it was always the sport I'd come back to."

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Unsurprisingly given her height, strong marking and ability to wheel out of a contest, the Western Bulldogs supporter nominated Marcus Bontempelli as a source of inspiration.

Montana Ham celebrates a goal during the NAB AFLW U18 National Championship match between Vic Country and Vic Metro on March 20, 2022. Picture: AFL Photos

"It definitely helps a lot, being able to have that extra reach over people and extra strength comes through as well, being a little taller. It's been a good asset to my game," she said.

"Being a taller midfielder, I really model my game on him, seeing how he uses his body against other players, being able to watch that and use it in my game."

A year 12 student at Overnewton Anglican Community College, Ham still holds onto her little nippers roots when it comes to unwinding.

"I love to go down to Torquay, URBNSURF, anywhere I can go for a surf and spend time with my mates or family, it's really relaxing," Ham said.

"The peace you get when you're out there, nothing else seems to matter but catching waves."