Another Prespakis win, Chargers dominate NAB League Girls' Team of the Year

CALDER Cannons midfield bull Georgie Prespakis has gone one better than her brilliant sister Madison after scoring her second consecutive runaway win in the NAB League Girls best-and-fairest award.

Prespakis, 18, won the medal by five votes as a 16-year-old in 2019 and was even more dominant this season, polling 21 votes to salute by seven from Northern Knights pocket rocket Ava Jordan, who is still only 16 herself.

Greater Western Victoria Rebels speedster Nyakoat Dojiok and Oakleigh Chargers midfielder Charlie Rowbottom finished equal third on 12 votes.

Oakleigh Charger Charlie Rowbottom. Picture: AFL Photos

Prespakis was unstoppable in landing seven best-on-grounds in just nine appearances for the Cannons, averaging 23 disposals and showing she wasn’t afraid to get her hands dirty by laying 8.7 tackles per match.

She stepped into Essendon's VFLW team late in the season and starred there as well, playing five matches including all three finals, averaging 17.2 disposals and an amazing 10.2 tackles per game, including a 21-possession, 13-tackle performance against undefeated Collingwood in the second semi-final.

It was form that didn't escape the recruiters, being taken by Geelong at pick No.2 in July's NAB AFLW Draft – the first selection in the Victorian zone after Rowbottom went to Gold Coast at pick No.1.

2021 NAB LEAGUE GIRLS BEST AND FAIREST

21: Georgie Prespakis (Calder)
14: Ava Jordan (Northern)
12: Nyakoat Dojiok (Greater Western Victoria)
12: Charlie Rowbottom (Oakleigh)
10: Bridget Deed (Eastern)
10: Ella Maurer (Tasmania)
9: Amber Clarke (Dandenong)
9: Lilli Condon (Greater Western Victoria)
9: Charlotte Baskaran (Western)
8: Priscilla Odwogo (Tasmania)

Madison Prespakis won the award in 2018 before being drafted at No.3 by Carlton, making it three years in a row for the family, and Georgie will be hoping to start her AFLW career as well as her older sister, who went on to claim the AFLW best-and-fairest award in just her second season in 2020.

"It's a massive honour, going back two years ago to my first year of Cannons I can't even remember what that season was like – this year was a really good result, not only for me but for the Calder Cannons as a group," Georgie Prespakis, who has just relocated to Geelong, said.

"I'm so stoked to be down here and it's going to be so much fun to get down to the stadium more and meet all the girls and really get into the training side of things.

"Not playing much footy last year, coming into this year made me a lot hungrier, and knowing it was my draft year I just wanted to go in hard and try my best throughout the season and constantly improve every week from Calder Cannons level to VFL level and Vic Metro games.

"We were actually lucky enough to be able to finish our NAB League season, so I'm really grateful for that and even now after getting drafted I'm just looking to keep improving … and hopefully play some good footy at the Cats."

NAB LEAGUE GIRLS BEST-AND-FAIREST HONOUR BOARD

2021: Georgie Prespakis (Calder)
2019: Georgie Prespakis (Calder)
2018: Madison Prespakis (Calder), Nina Morrison (Geelong)
2017: Chloe Molloy (Calder), Bridie Kennedy (Dandenong)

Prespakis was selected in the centre in the NAB League Girls' Team of the Year, one of three Cannons alongside winger Emelia Yassir and ruck Tahlia Gillard.

All three featured in Essendon's VFLW finals series and found AFLW homes in July's draft, with Yassir off to Richmond and Gillard to Melbourne.

Oakleigh Chargers star Rowbottom, the sister of Sydney young gun James, was named captain of the Team of the Year as one of a league-best four members of the premiership team, while the Greater Western Victoria Rebels and Geelong Falcons also provided three players.

The Tasmanian Devils, Bendigo Pioneers, Western Jets and Eastern Ranges each had two players picked; the Dandenong Stingrays, Northern Knights and Murray Bushrangers had one each and Gippsland Power missed out.

The team was selected across performances not only in the NAB League, but also the NAB AFLW Under-19 national championships, plus 2020 matches.

Seventeen of the 24 players named are about to start their AFLW journey after being taken in July’s draft, while Jets youngster Charlotte Baskaran, 16, turned heads in her debut season, being named on the interchange after lighting up the competition with averages of 23.4 disposals and 5.8 tackles in eight matches.

2021 NAB LEAGUE GIRLS TEAM OF THE YEAR

B:    
Jaide Anthony (Dan)     
17, 166cm.  5mt, 13.8ds, 2mk, 3.6tk, 1gl         
Tarrah Delgado (Nor)    18, 173cm.  8mt, 12.3ds, 2.3mk, 1.8tk, 2gl   
Chloe Leonard (GWV)   
19, 168cm.  9mt, 19.4ds, 2.4mk, 7.1tk, 1gl

HB:  
Ella Friend (GWV)         18, 175cm. #4 St Kilda      9mt, 16ds, 4.3mk, 2.9tk, 2gl               Annie Lee (Gee)           18, 169cm. #10 Carlton     9mt, 17.2ds, 5.4mk, 3.6tk 
Brooke Vickers (Oak)   
18, 171cm. #23 Carlton    11mt, 13.4ds, 1.3mk, 3.3tk, 3gl

C:    
Aurora Smith (Mur)       
17, 165cm. #25 W Bulldogs   6mt, 20.7ds, 3.2mk, 3.3tk          Georgie Prespakis (Cal) 18, 168cm. #2 Geelong        9mt, 23ds, 1.9mk, 8.7tk, 5gl 
Emelia Yassir (Cal)         
18, 160cm. #16 Richmond   9mt, 16.7ds, 2.2mk, 3.9tk, 1gl
                                
HF:  
Ella Maurer (Tas)          
19, 169cm. #56 North Melb    9mt, 16.8ds, 1.4mk, 4.8tk, 4gl   Montana Ham (Wes)     17, 178cm.                          8mt, 18ds, 3.3mk, 5tk, 2gl  
Stella Reid (Oak)    
      18, 173cm, #5 Richmond   11mt, 20.1ds, 4.5mk, 3.6tk, 15gl
                                                 
F:     
Elizabeth Snell (Ben)       
19, 165cm. #27 W Bulldogs     5mt, 19.6ds, 3.4mk, 8.6tk, 3gl  Georgia Campbell (Eas)  18, 182cm. #41 Melbourne     9mt, 7.4ds, 1.3mk, 18.6ho, 5gl 
Paige Scott (GWV)   
       17, 166cm.                           9mt, 13.6ds, 4.7mk, 3.4tk, 15gl

R:    
Tahlia Gillard (Cal)    
17, 190cm. #42 Melbourne     7mt, 11.3ds, 2mk, 3.3tk, 14.1ho, 3gl 
Tess Craven (Gee)      
17, 163cm. #13 North Melb    10mt, 21.1ds, 4.5mk, 3.6tk, 4gl 
Charlie Rowbottom (Oak, c)  
18, 178cm, #1 Gold Coast   11mt, 17.6ds, 2.8mk, 7.1tk, 10gl
                          
INT:  Perri King (Tas)           18, 170cm. #43 North Melb    9mt, 19.7ds, 1.8mk, 9.4tk, 1gl       Poppy Schaap (Gee)            18, 153cm.                            10mt, 19.1ds, 3mk, 5.5tk, 8gl  
Amanda Ling (Oak)             
19, 161cm. #22 W Bulldogs   11mt, 17ds, 2.2mk, 6.5tk, 3gl
Charlotte Baskaran (Wes)  16, 162cm.       8mt, 23.4ds, 2mk, 5.8tk, 1gl 
Tara Slender (Ben)             
17, 175cm. #19 North Melb     5mt, 16.2ds, 4.2mk, 5.2tk         
Keeley Sherar (Eas)           
17, 170cm. #11 Carlton   10mt, 14.8ds, 2.2mk, 4.8tk, 2gl
                                              
COACH: Paul Corrigan (Geelong Falcons)

Falcons coach Paul Corrigan was awarded coach of the year after taking the girls' team to the Grand Final and the boys to sixth in a 15-team competition.

"I've probably found what my real passion was, which was to get back to the grassroots and the development side of things in the talent pathway at the Falcons,” he said.

"It was unexpected walking in (back in November) and a bit of an unknown about what it would be like, but fortunately I had Tommy Lonergan on board as the talent manager who had prior experience at Calder Cannons.

"I had a little bit to do with girls footy at Essendon but not a great deal in the coaching aspect, so I walked in there (Geelong) with no expectations of the girls and I was thoroughly surprised.

Geelong Falcons coach Paul Corrigan. Picture: AFL Photos

"I had a fair few assistant coaches (Michael Bright, Rod Condy, Michael King, Nathan Murray, Tom van Kalken and Mel Hickey) around me as well, and we all just took it as it came – the girls were fantastic and the coaches really enjoyed what the girls brought to the program.

"They're very honest in what they do but they also like to have a good time and I probably took aspects of that with the other coaches into the boys program.

"It was probably one of the best experiences I've had in coaching girls footy and the support I had from my assistant coaches was invaluable throughout the year, which made the whole journey really enjoyable and just flowed on to the boys.

"We hit some hurdles (with the boys through) COVID and the lockdowns, but to the boys' credit they were super resilient through that period and so were the coaches and support staff.

"This award is probably for everyone at the Falcons who has helped me along the way and made it so enjoyable so far."