By Sam Watson
KORUMBURRA football star Grace Matser was recently invited to attend the NAB AFL Women’s Draft Combine.
Matser was one of 35 Victorians invited to the combine, where clubs will look at the athletic capabilities of the draftees ahead of the AFLW Draft.
The 18-year-old was the only player invited from Gippsland Power, after a dominant season in the ruck and up forward.
Despite her dominant season for Power, Matser said she was surprised when she found out she was invited.
She surely would’ve thought she was a chance when her play for Gippsland Power earnt her a spot in the Vic Country team at the AFLW Under 19 Championships in April.
“I obviously went through the Vic Country program which I really loved but then I wasn’t really sure what was going to happen from there,” Matser said.
“I just sort of went along with it and luckily got invited which is really exciting.”
In 2017, Matser, who is now commonly known as ‘Stretch’ thanks to Power teammate Grace McRae, made her debut in the Korumburra Bena youth girls’ side.
From that moment, she and everyone watching knew she had what it takes to make it big in football.
“Pretty much my whole life I’ve been wanting to make it, but obviously there wasn’t a pathway when I was younger,” Matser said.
“But (the desire to play at a high level) has always been there.”
Later that year she went to Gippsland Power, but she was a bit too young to play in the under 18s side, so she ran water.
But it didn’t take long to graduate from water runner to star ruckman.
Shortly after debuting for Gippsland Power, Matser was selected in the Vic Country Under 16s side and the year before she’d also represented School Sport Victoria in the under 15s.
In 2020, the year 12 student joined the Bass Coast Breakers and earlier this year she made her debut for Casey Demons in the VFLW.
But she hasn’t just been excelling on the football field, she’s pretty handy on the basketball court as well.
She’s a long-time servant of the Korumburra Wildcats, playing in the Under 10s through to the Under 19s, and in their Country Basketball League squad.
Around five years ago, Matser went through Basketball Australia’s National Intensive Training Program, and she was also selected as an emergency in the Victorian national titles team.
But she’s set on plying her trade with the Sherrin in hand.
And she can’t wait to show recruiters what she’s got at the combine.
“I’m pretty nervous but I’m just excited for the experience, I’m really looking forward to it.”
Matser’s footy IQ, ruck craft, foot skills and endurance will bode well for her chances when the AFLW draft rolls around on July 27.
She’s pretty happy living at home in Korumburra with her mum Lisa, dad Henry and older brother Chris but she said she’s more than prepared to move interstate if that’s where she gets drafted.
“As long I’m getting to have a kick of the footy, I don’t really mind where I go,” Matser said.
“It’d be pretty exciting to move interstate. I look forward to it whether I play in Victoria or interstate.”
Matser is a lifelong Western Bulldogs fan, but she’ll have to wait until at least pick 22 if she wants to land at Whitten Oval.
The date and time of the combine are still yet to be decided as the AFL determines the suitability around COVID-19 restrictions.