In 2019, North Media will be profiling some of the club's emerging AFLW stars in our new segment, 'Cripps Fresh Talent'.
Next up, key-forward Jas Garner is in the spotlight.
Growing up, Jas Garner was an avid footballer, playing alongside her sibling and relatives in Melbourne’s inner western suburbs.
Despite having a passion for the sport, opportunities at a grassroots level were limited for females in the AFL space.
What a difference a few years makes ... the rapid rise of women's football has seen the 24-year-old among the first crop of players to play at an elite level, the AFL Women's Competition, and now she's keen to ensure other young girls get the same opportunities.
“I played a lot with my brother and cousins (as a youngster) and have always had a passion for footy," Garner explained.
“We (females) didn’t have the chance to play, but the dream was always to be a full-time footballer."
“Even though we get to play now in the AFLW at a part-time level, I want to give back and create pathways for the girls who have the dream to play.”
That's why her role at the North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroos is so important; Garner juggles playing in the royal blue and white, with nurturing the next crop of footy stars in her role working with the club's academy programs.
Garner has been given the platform to build programs for aspiring youngsters.
“It’s great to be able to give back,” she revealed.
“I’m lucky that I have a good boss (Academy Operations Manager Leah Caluzzi), who allows me to have an input and put these programs together for kids who enjoy playing footy.
“I was able to have role models that helped me develop at state level, and even in my experience at AFL Victoria, but I’ve never had a coaching role like this.”
The bi-monthly programs vary with boys and girls of all ages and across multiple regions, including North Melbourne, Wyndham and Tasmania amongst others.
The programs offer kids the chance to develop their talents on the field, but also away from footy, with a focus on cultural diversity, leadership, careers & education and health & wellbeing.
North's first selection in the 2018 NAB AFL Draft, Tarryn Thomas, was selected from the club's Next Generation Academy.
But according to Garner, there's many more success stories to come.
“To think that maybe one day that the teenagers who have been a part of my programs could one day play alongside me is a dream,” Garner said.
Working at Arden Street three days a week in amongst dominating at centre half-forward, Garner is living the dream.
“You never know what the future holds, but I’m happy with where things are at,” she said.
“To work in a club that embraces us as footballers is great. I’m grateful to be able to play a small part in their football journey.
“To see how the kids respond, particularly the girls, is amazing to see.”
Did you know?
North Melbourne Tasmanian Kangaroo Emma Humphries played state cricket for six years and soccer for 11 as a youngster, illustrating her impressive sporting prowess.
She even remembers her local cricket club being sponsored by North's AFLW Partner Cripps.
“I guess you could say I’ve been tied to the brand for a while,” Humphries said.
“From a community perspective, it’s refreshing to know that you’ve got that backing. I think having that kind of support within the community is amazing and goes a long way.”