No player in the AFLW has had a journey to the top level quite like North Melbourne’s Zoe Savarirayan.

A strong soccer player in her youth, Savarirayan made the leap to footy just this year - deciding to represent Wesley College in her final year of school.

Now at the business end of year 12, it took her just five games to catch the eyes of AFLW scouts across Victoria with the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos winning the race for the raw and pacy young midfielder/forward ahead of season seven.

Savarirayan says the fact she’s training with the likes of AFLW stars Ash Riddell and Jas Garner still hasn’t sunk in.

“It came so out of the blue, it was insane. I just wanted to play footy for fun since I enjoy it so much and all of a sudden I’m in the AFLW,” Savarirayan told North Media.

“The head of football for our school Brent Thiele used to work at North Melbourne. The first time I heard anything about it he took me into a classroom and told me North wanted me to come and see the club for a day. I didn’t believe him and I think I’m still shocked at how it all happened.”

Every player’s path to AFLW is different. Some, like Emma Kearney, had played the game for years before the competition’s inception. Others like Erika O’Shea are only just being introduced to the game. Savarirayan though is a different story entirely.

AFLW list and performance manager Rhys Harwood was a key player in bringing the 17-year-old student to the club, and he says she’s been impressive since day one.

“We first heard about Zoe at the start of the year. We went and watched her play a couple of times, the first time she played deep forward and couldn’t really do much because her team got pumped. We went and watched her the next week, she played onball and she was super clean,” Harwood said.

"We went and watched her again the next week and she started on the ball and she was super clean. After half-time they put her forward and she kicked a great goal where she took three bounces beforehand, and then she did the same thing five minutes later.

"Straight after that game she went and played the second half of the firsts' soccer game with her sister and her sister scored five goals I think, so they’re a talented family.

"She’s going really well. It’s obviously a massive jump up from having played no footy to playing AFLW but she’s adapting really quickly and I think she’s surprised a few people with how much she’s come on so quickly. 

"This year will obviously be a big development year for her but I think she could have scope to play a bit this season, but we definitely believe she’s shown enough to indicate a long-term future which is exciting."

The movement of the upcoming AFLW season to August means there are a number of young players across the competition who will be completing their final year of schooling while their club’s campaign is getting underway. Savarirayan is one of those.

Currently completing her International Baccalaureate she will certainly have a heavy study workload as she enters the final months of her formal high school education.

Savarirayan says she’s looking forward to the challenge of juggling her school and football commitments in the coming weeks.

"So far it’s been OK because it’s been school holidays but I think it’ll be quite tough when we go back,” she said.

"The club is really great in that they understand the pressure of year 12 and they really let us manage what we do and we get to choose how many training sessions we go to a week, so it’s really good from that perspective. 

"Right now I’ll be doing one or two sessions a week and as many extras as I can around my study. It’s been all right so far but heading into exam period I’m sure it’ll get more difficult.

"It’s been so great so far. Everyone is so nice and so supportive and all the girls are great. There’s such a good community and good culture in the group. I can’t say anything else other than it’s just been amazing."


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