Surf to footy, Teah Charlton is still chasing flags

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IT'S NO coincidence that South Adelaide's Teah Charlton is a fierce contested ball-winner. 

The 18-year-old – who was one of just four bottom-agers to be named All Australian at last year's NAB AFLW Under-18 Championships – spent years honing her competitive instincts through surf lifesaving competitions.

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Charlton competed in the sport, including at national titles, until she was 15, with her main events being the paddle-board and flags.

For the uninitiated, the flags event sees competitors sprint and dive for a flag, but there aren't enough to go around for everyone. As the rounds progress, the number of competitors and flags decrease, but there are always fewer flags than people. 

Think musical chairs, but with flags.

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When asked to describe her style of play, the attributes Charlton described married up well with her sporting past. 

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"I love to get in and grab the ball, run with it a lot, and I think I have a good goal sense, love to get a goal every now and again," Charlton told womens.afl

"I did surf lifesaving from when I was seven till I was about 15 years old, then I made the choice to stick just with football, because it was just getting a bit too much on my legs and body. 

"I performed at a high level, travelled interstate, did the Australian titles, so I got to experience a lot in that sport as well, which is really cool."

Charlton was one of just four bottom-age All Australians last year. Picture: Bradley Kanaris/AFL Photos

Having watched her brother play, she was keen to try the sport that was "a bit rougher than netball", and played with the boys for a couple of years.

There was an interlude without footy, then she found a girls' under-18 side at Christies Beach in the south of Adelaide.

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Charlton has now played two seasons at SANFLW club South Adelaide, and finished fifth in the SANFLW's best and fairest this year as an 18 year old. It came on the back of her Under-18 All-Australian honours last year. 

"I was super proud of myself for that All-Australian," she said. 

"It was definitely a confidence booster to know I'm at that level against all other girls around Australia, and I'm able to compete at a high standard." 

Charlton has already had a taste of training at Adelaide through the NAB AFLW Academy program, spending a few weeks at the club at the start of the year.

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"I got to experience what it was like to be in the professional environment and learnt how to look after my body a lot better as well," she said. 

"They do a lot of pre-warm up for knees and ankles, and they're really hot on the recovery afterwards, as you want to be able to go again in the next training and be able to play a game. Ice baths aren't as bad in the summer.

"Eb Marinoff took me under her wing, showed me around at training and made sure all the girls knew who I was.

"The other one I've always looked up to – and is probably what everyone else says – is Erin Phillips. She's just a weapon in her field."

The NAB AFLW Draft will be live on womens.afl and the AFLW Official App from 7pm AEDT on Tuesday, October 6