From W-League to AFLW: Saint's long and tough road

IN PETA Searle's words, St Kilda draftee Jacqui Vogt is a "good reward for perseverance".

In a previous life, the 26-year-old Vogt (pronounced Vot) was a defender for W-League side Melbourne Victory.

She had grown up kicking a footy in the backyard but had only competitively played the round ball game.

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Come the end of 2017, Vogt was taking a break from soccer when the life-long St Kilda fan heard about a talent day for the club's inaugural VFLW side, the Southern Saints.

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"I loved elite sport and playing in that environment, so I thought this could really be for me," Vogt told womens.afl.

"I went down to the first trial day down (at the Saints then-base at) Seaford, and it was history from there."

But a torn meniscus suffered at training meant Vogt sat on the sidelines for the Saints' first VFLW season, and didn't get to play her first game until 2019.

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Still an inexperienced forward, she was a train-on player for the Saints' AFLW side in 2020, hoping for a strong VFLW season to push her case to be drafted.

And then lockdown hit, and the season was cancelled.

"I used it to my advantage. I come from Gippsland, and I'm lucky to have a home gym and things like that, so I worked on my running and in the gym so I could give it my best shot to get drafted. I'm really happy it paid off," Vogt said.

"I just really wanted to get drafted and I'm a motivated person with a lot of self-drive. I thought I'd use the time when I wasn't working to my advantage. I've got a really supportive partner, and he'd come down to the oval with me, so it was really good to do it with him."

At 172cm, Vogt – who is most definitely the only AFLW player to be juggling football with managing their parents' hotel in Traralgon – is set to play an integral role in the Saints forward line, which was an area of concern in their first season.

The Saints kicked the third-fewest points in 2020, struggling to find an alternative path to score besides the AFLW leading goalkicker Caitlin Greiser.

"Jacqui is really good reward for perseverance, for both us and Jacqui," coach Searle said.

"She was part of our VFLW program, she came along and had never played footy before, but we put her on our list, but she didn't play the whole first year because she was in rehab. Imagine your entire first year in VFL in rehab.

"It's good reward for both of us, we stuck with her and she persevered and worked hard through her injuries, and now together hopefully we can do something special."