Past Student Spotlight - From Top Goalie to Top Draft Pick

Brianna's Journey to the Bulldogs

IT'S TAKEN Port Melbourne local Brianna Davey just seven games to leap to the top of the women's footy talent pool and stake her claim as the must-have recruit for next month's Western Bulldogs-Melbourne match.

Davey, 20, was taken with pick No.1 in the first official AFL women's mini-draft on Wednesday, after seven eye-catching performances in the VWFL.

She'll now line up for the Dogs on August 16 at Etihad Stadium in the second women's exhibition match this season.

The versatile St Kilda Shark has shot to prominence in a remarkable few months, after narrowly missing the opportunity to represent Australia in soccer at the recent World Cup.

She was part of the Matildas' squad up until May as a goalkeeper, but was edged out of the travelling team by former captain Melissa Hudson. 

While the omission naturally hurt, Davey wasn't to be kept down for long.

She swiftly dealt with the disappointment by trading in her goalkeeping gloves for a pair of footy boots and joined the Sharks, where she has been in the team's best in every game she's played since.

"I didn't expect it to happen this quickly," Davey told this week."Initially, AFL was something for me to just get back on the field and have a kick - I didn't expect to progress this quickly in a sport but it's been really cool so far."


Davey is no stranger to Australian Rules. Her family has a strong background in the sport and she started Auskick  when she was four. 

From there, it was onto under 10s with the Port Melbourne Colts, playing "with the boys" when she was seven.But when she turned 12, the desire to pursue a sport with national representation won out for the talented athlete.

"I had this ambition to be a professional athlete and at the time there wasn't much in it for women [in Australian Rules]," she said.

"As much as I loved it, I thought I'd pick up something else I was interested in and it happened to be soccer."

Davey was 13 when she made her first national soccer team, and then from there represented Australia in under-17s, under-20s and then seniors, where she made her debut at the age of 16.

She'd been with the senior squad for the past four years before she had to deal with the recent heartbreak of staying home and watching the Matildas make it to the World Cup quarter-finals, where they lost to Japan.

"It was definitely disappointing and difficult, and I think any athlete who cops a blow like that is going to be disappointed because it's something you've worked so hard for, for a long time," she said.

"When it happened though, it was the perfect opportunity for me to go and play footy again, and I know a couple of girls from the Sharks and they suggested I come and play.

"It's been great to come back to footy on my break and play the sport I've always been really passionate about.

"When I started playing footy I just wanted to play, and it's the same now … and now with being drafted, I'm just really excited for the challenge."

Davey says her fearless nature and hand-eye coordination, honed from years of playing in goal on the soccer pitch are her features that best translate to AFL.

But Bulldogs coach Craig Starcevich believes her versatility will help his team the most. 

"Brianna is a first-choice athlete from another sport and obviously brings a lot to the table. She's very versatile and can play as a big-bodied midfielder, key back or key forward," Starcevich said.

"We're expecting her to give us some flexibility to play in any of those spots.

"She's really competitive, made a huge impact in the VWFL since she's been playing, which has only been for a couple of months.

"She's regularly in St Kilda's best and we're really excited to have her in our group."


This article originally appeared at, republished with full permissions.