One of a kind: Tasmanian prospect's unique Combine experience

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IN A strange year for football, Charlie Vandenberg had her own unique experience – a NAB AFLW Draft Combine of her very own.

The Tasmanian ruck is a recent convert to footy, having played state-level hockey since she was 13.

Last year, Vandenberg thought she'd give something else a go, and played a few school footy games at Marist Regional College in Burnie.

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There, she was quickly identified by former Roo and Tasmania Devils NAB League girls' coach Emma Humphries.

While she didn't manage to play in the two games of this year's cancelled competition (due to COVID-19), she has since found her feet with Wynyard in the NWFL Women's.

Due to COVID-19, the national Combine has been restructured into state-based events. The 17-year-old was the only Tasmanian girl invited, so on Tuesday tested alongside the Tasmanian boys.

Charlotte Vandenberg takes part in testing during the 2020 Tasmania NAB AFLW Draft Combine. Picture: AFL Photos

"It was all completely new, I didn't know what to expect, there being no other girls. Nine boys had been invited, but only seven tested (due to injuries) alongside me," Vandenberg told womens.afl.

"I didn't know any of them, only knew one staff member. I was a bit scared and nervous, but it was a good experience. I probably didn't do my very best in the tests, but I'd never done anything official like that before.

"The boys were definitely welcoming. They didn't know me but were nice, talked to me and made sure I was OK. Jackson Callow was injured, so he looked out for me."

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As to the testing itself – including a 2km time trial, vertical jumps, a 20m sprint and an agility run – that was also a novel experience.

"Considering my height, speed and agility are usually not my best, but I was pretty happy with how I went," she said.

"I thought I would have been better with my jumps, but I'll only improve, that's OK."

Charlotte Vandenberg takes part in testing during the 2020 Tasmania NAB AFLW Draft Combine. Picture: AFL Photos

It's been a whirlwind sporting year for Vandenberg – who hasn't come from a footballing family – but she's enjoyed the challenge.

"I gave footy a crack because I'm tall and it was a bit of fun. I didn't really understand any of the game structure, so I was thrown in the deep end a bit, but Wynyard are a pretty experienced team, so they helped me out," Vandenberg said.

"I've enjoyed all of it. I definitely needed a break from hockey, I was getting frustrated playing it. Through footy, I'm working with completely different people, a different sport, and it suits my height a lot better. 

"From playing school footy last year, jumping around on the field, not being sure what was going on or what the rules were, to playing club and being in the proper Devils program, it's been a lot of fun."

Stay tuned to womens.afl and the AFLW Official App for comprehensive coverage of the 2020 NAB AFLW Draft