As difficult as it’s been, we’ve finally selected a player as The Women’s Game’s AFLW Player of the Year. Carlton’s rising star Maddy Prespakis has come off her best season to date, taking her game to a whole new level in what is only her second year in the competition.
Carlton drafted Prespakis from the 2018 AFL Women’s national draft with their first selection at pick number three.
She grew up as a local, hailing from the north-west of Melbourne, and was a sporty kid playing football (and basketball) from the age of four through Auskick. She played alongside the boys until she was 14 years old, at which time she changed over to girls footy (representing the under-15 Sunbury girls side).
In 2017, when Prespakis was 16, she played for the Calder Cannons in the TAC Cup Girls competition and won a premiership with the Cannons. In the same year, she was named in the TAC Cup Girls team of the year and came second in the competition’s best and fairest award.
She was also selected by the AFL Women’s Academy squad in 2018 and was provided with the opportunity to train with the Western Bulldogs and Collingwood for a few months. A year later in 2018, Prespakis was named the captain of the Calder Cannons and again won the club’s best and fairest award. Her sporting achievements were coming thick and fast, also tying with now-Geelong young gun Nina Morrison in the TAC Cup’s best and fairest.
It was easy for Prespakis to let go of basketball in favour of footy, but she was grateful when growing up that she could play two different sports.
“I enjoyed playing basketball, but I always knew footy was the path that I wanted to take and footy was definitely my number one priority.”
In 2019, in only her second season she was one to watch and caused headaches for the opposition sides with her finesse through the midfield.
To top this all off, she was named equal first in a three-way tie for player of the year along with North Melbourne’s Jasmine Garner and Melbourne’s Karen Paxman. She was also named in the first ever Under 22 AFL Players Association squad.
“I think it was a good second season to start off the year the way I did, after a good first year,” Prespakis said.
“I knew that I had to take my game to another level after last year and I knew that I was going to get attention from the other team, so to be able to handle that was really good.”
The biggest lessons she has taken away from her first two seasons include how professional the program actually is and how high intensity the AFLW is. With such a short season, she has had to learn how to manage her recovery and body throughout the season, so she has had to make sure she is keeping on top of the things that will help with that.
After two impressive seasons of elite footy, Maddy is humble and quick to share credit for her achievements with her teammates.
“It’s pretty exciting and I don’t take it for granted too much and am very grateful.
“I don’t think you really get those acknowledgements without your team and for the work that they have done over the preseason and it helped me to improve my game, so I think it’s a massive credit to them and it really keeps me on my feet.”
The culture at Carlton is what drives Prespakis to play her best football, as she is enjoying her time at the club. She has been impressed with the way that everyone at the club, from the players to the coaches, have all played a huge role in developing the now great culture at the Blues.
“The girls were amazing and they all welcomed myself and each of the draftees into the club with open arms.
“In my first year, we had all new coaching staff, so they cared about us and got to know everyone in the way they did.
“I think the care that we have for each other is amazing and is something that makes me so happy to see. It’s so easy to walk into the Carlton Football Club and I enjoy playing there so I can’t wait for next year.”