Young gun rewarded with golden opportunity

Mount Gambier young gun Brooke Tonon has continued her meteoric rise in women’s football and will represent South Australia in the 2021 NAB AFLW U19 National Championships next month.

The promotion is a major objective in Tonon’s promising career as she will test her skills against the best junior football talent in the country on the same turf the Gold Coast Suns play on at Metricon Stadium.

The national competition does not start until Monday, April 12, but the Croweaters will warm up against Western Australia at Flinders University Stadium this Sunday.

Thinking about the prospect of representing SA, Tonon said she could not wait to hit the field in the famous red guernsey.

“It feels very special to be picked in the state squad,” she said.

“It is such an exciting opportunity both on and off the field with a talented group of girls and I have already learnt heaps.

“It is a very new experience travelling this far in a team environment where we all get to showcase ourselves.

“This definitely will be the biggest highlight so far, so I am very much looking forward to it.”

The youngster is already no stranger to playing for South Australia having previously played in Under 16’s in 2018 and 2019.

In the latter year she got the chance to play for her hometown as vice-captain and was set to return in 2020 before COVID-19 shut down the fixture.

Tonon’s talent has risen to new levels lately since she packed her bags and made the move to Adelaide at the start of last year.

She described moving cities as “scary” but now believes it has been “the best thing” she has ever done.

Since Tonon kicked a goal on debut for Glenelg against Central District in the SANFLW last year, she has gone from strength to strength.

After just 10 games, she has nailed down a starting spot in the Tigers’ side collecting regular disposals from the half-backline.

Tonon said the experience had taken her game to new heights.

“My game has developed massively since my debut last year,” she said.

“I now have a full Glenelg preseason under my belt which was really beneficial in terms of fitness development.

“I have completely changed position which is good because it’s given me a chance to develop my versatility.

“I am now playing backline consistently with Glenelg after normally playing forwardline and occasionally on the wing.

“I have been taught to use my weapon as often as I can which is my clean hands and good use of the ball by foot which I have been trying to implement into my game as much as possible.”

Tonon admitted she was a bit worried stepping into the Tigers’ setup, but has flourished thanks to the positive environment.

“I was very nervous at the start of the season last year, but now after the experience I have had and the welcoming nature of the club, I feel very confident to make an impact on the training track and in games,” she said.

“Playing for Glenelg has been amazing because it is one big family.

“There is a lot of commitment on the field being at the elite level, but they are a fantastic group of girls and we have heaps of fun.

“One thing I have found significantly beneficial which I have not had at other clubs is reviews and feedback.

“This allows us to see from different perspectives how we are going as a team, individually in what we are doing well and what we need to improve on.”

Having played all four SANFLW games in 2021, Tonon has done everything she can at Glenelg and is ready to take the next step towards her dream.

With AFLW recruiters expected to be watching the champions from the stands, Tonon said she will push herself to perform in Queensland.

“These championships give us a chance to impress AFLW recruiters as this is the first year draft age, so I will put lots of pressure on myself because it is my dream to get drafted,” she said.

“It just makes me want to push myself harder to do my best and make the most from that week.

“Fingers crossed I get a look in, but otherwise I’ll just keep giving it a crack each year at SANFLW level to impress.

“Playing at a fantastic venue with the best talent from around the country will be a massive challenge, but I reckon I’m up for it.”

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