COULD North Adelaide defender Amber Ward make the unique transition from the Adelaide cheer squad to Adelaide's AFLW team?
The soon-to-be 19-year-old mad Crows fan is in the running for one of three remaining spots on the club's list ahead of the NAB AFLW Draft on October 6.
Ward missed out on selection last year, but is hoping the second time's the charm, after a strong SANFLW season and an even better showing in the recent South Australian NAB AFLW All-Stars match.
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"I nominated last year, but unfortunately didn’t get picked up, so I'll try again this year and see what happens. If I don't get picked up, then I'm happy to go back to North, keep improving and hope to get there some day," Ward told womens.afl.
"I think the area I've developed the most this year is hitting up targets instead of bombing it down the line. My North coach, Krissie (Steen), has really pushed that with me, and I think that's made a big difference.
"It's been a very strange season (including a 10-week break due to COVID-19 restrictions) and it was hard to keep fit and at that level for such a long period of time. It took about a year of hard training and hard work – our trials were in October and we only just finished."
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The defender with a booming kick has been invited to South Australia's upcoming NAB AFLW Combine and was named her side's best in the state's All-Stars game.
"It was a bit of a shock (to be named best), but I'll take it. I was quite surprised. We all worked together and made each other look good for the AFL clubs, so it was a good team effort overall," she said.
"To be out there with some of the best people was great. You learn a lot from each other and it's always good to meet other people from other clubs."
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Ward and her family have been members of Adelaide's cheer squad for five years, which included one ill-fated road trip to Melbourne.
"I've always been a big footy fan, we're a massive footy family. We were in the cheer squad for the AFL Grand Final in 2017," she said.
"We made the road trip over there, but didn't get the result we wanted, so that's turned into a bit of a scarring moment."
I nominated last year, but unfortunately didn’t get picked up, so I'll try again this year and see what happens. If I don't get picked up, then I'm happy to go back to North, keep improving and hope to get there some day
Despite loving footy from a young age, Ward played soccer for 11 years, only making the switch to football at 16 as the momentum of the fledgling NAB AFLW competition grew.
She then represented South Australia and Central Allies at the NAB AFLW Under-18 Championships in 2018 and 2019, a broken arm the only thing preventing her from making her debut in 2017.
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"I came down to North's under-17s and did a little program there. From there, I got picked up to the women's team and I've been there for three years," she said.
"To finally play footy was amazing. It was nerve-racking, but to be out there at such a high level after supporting the game and not knowing if girls could get this opportunity was so good."
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