From Warrnambool to Geelong via Scotland: Prospect's long road to the draft

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FROM Warrnambool to Geelong via Scotland – Annie Lee's gone the long way to play football.

The 17-year-old was born in the Victorian country town, before moving with her family to her mother's native Scotland in her early years.

Lee returned to Australia when she was eight or nine, and was gradually introduced to football by her dad, graduating from kicking in the backyard to the under-12s at Newton-Chilwell, then onto Geelong Amateurs.

Now a strong intercept defender for the Geelong Falcons and Vic Country, Lee – who studies at a SEDA sports school – has her eyes set on July's NAB AFLW Draft.

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"This is my fourth season with Geelong Falcons, and having those years has really helped me get experience and learn the higher league of footy," Lee told womens.afl.

"As a backline player, I love running down a player if they're going for goal or something like that. The adrenaline rushes through you and it's an incredible feeling. Or an intercept mark in the last few minutes of a really tight game, it's a really good feeling that you're managing to help your team.

"Dad's such a big fan of football, and I do remember me and my brother would be watching cartoons and dad would turn over to the footy and I wanted the cartoons back on, I had no recollection of what footy was.

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"It's quite weird that I've since come over (to Australia) and have been kicking the footy."

Vic Country's Annie Lee gets a kick away against Vic Metro. Picture: Getty Images

The 169cm Lee reads the ball well overhead and is a neat kick out of defence, but the thoughtfully spoken defender has struggled at times with the mental side of football.

She's found a willing and experienced helping ear in Melissa Hickey – the former Geelong skipper and defender now an assistant coach at the Falcons and head coach at Country.

"I tend to get a bit negative, or I focus on the negatives before a game. I've been trying to settle that and just focus on the little things before a game, playing my role and not trying to make big expectations for myself," Lee said.

"I met up with her during school, and she mentioned about positive mindset and growth mindset, talking about things which were going to help me. I mentioned I was a bit of an over-thinker with the whole game, and that mentality can get a bit overwhelming, particularly before and during games.

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"She said if you do drop a mark, or you didn't tackle the girl and a goal was kicked on you, [that's where you use] the growth mindset where you forget about that, it's in the past, think about what you can control and focus on what you can do for the team and your role for the team."

Despite playing the majority of her football in defence, the AFLW player Lee most looks up to is new Melbourne forward Tayla Harris.

"She's a great player, but it's also how she deals with the media and backlash, I just love how she deals with it. There's so many who have affected the way I play, but I'd have to say Tayla (overall)," Lee said.

"On the way I like to play, I'd probably say Denby Taylor from Geelong, I used to play with her in under-18s, and seeing her in the Geelong uniform is amazing. The way she plays is outstanding, the whole intercepting role, she's just a great defender."