The AFLW draft gains momentum across the country as an increasing number of players choose to relocate interstate.

Kristie-Lee Weston-Turner’s family has been part of the Western Bulldogs cheer squad for 30 years, so when she was selected as the first pick in the AFLW draft by the Dogs, the stadium erupted in applause.

However, this year’s AFLW draft had a more national scope than previous ones, with the top four picks choosing to enter the national pool. This new system allowed them to be selected by any club in Australia, regardless of their geographical location. Only three of the first ten picks opted for the Victorian pool.

Weston-Turner expressed her excitement at the possibility of joining any club in the country for a “fresh start”. Nevertheless, she was grateful for being picked by the club she has supported her whole life.

The 18-year-old player, who impressed scouts despite wrist and leg injuries, still has one more year of school but plans to balance her studies with playing for her beloved club.

Other players are also making moves across borders, such as Victorian defender Jessica Rentsch, who was selected by the West Coast Eagles. Rentsch mentioned that her mother’s family living in WA would make the transition easier.

Kaitlyn Srhoj, a West Australian midfielder, was chosen by the GWS Giants as the third pick. She acknowledged that the move might be challenging at times, as she had never been to Sydney. However, she believes the change will be beneficial in the long run.

While the AFLW competition remains semi-professional for most players, with some earning only $40,000 in 2023, the draft rules do not force players to move interstate for the short four-month season.

However, many individuals within the game anticipate changes. Some coaches and officials believe that a fully national draft is on the horizon, which would level the playing field and equalize the competition.

In response, Julia Chiera, head of AFLW for the AFL Players Association, stated that her organization would continue working with the AFL to evaluate the current system and ensure its effectiveness going forward. She highlighted the importance of the state-based draft in allowing players to make choices that balance their lives as footballers with their personal demands outside of the sport.

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