One of the Northern Territory's most exciting prospects, Machaelia Roberts has been picked up at the NAB AFL Women's Draft today, with the NT Thunder/Darwin Buffaloes small-forward/midfielder selected by the Collingwood Football Club with pick 94.
Roberts is one of the most respected and feared footballers in the NT and has played both seasons in the VFLW, accumulating 20 games and six goals in her time in Thunder colours. She has also amassed more than 100 games in the Northern Territory Football League (NTFL) with the Buffettes.
She is an NTFL premiership player and four-time club best and fairest winner, collecting the past two Matthew Whelan Perpetual Trophies for being the Buffettes' standout player in seasons 2018/19 and 2017/18.
Roberts becomes the first AFLW-listed player originally from Groote Eylandt in East Arnhem Land. Born on the island, she moved to Darwin when she was seven-years-old and started playing NTFL football as a 15-year old.
Now 25-years-old she is a mother of three to Elaine, who is seven-years-old and five-year-old twin boys, Rex and Raiden. Both Collingwood and AFL Northern Territory will assist Roberts with her move south and ensure her family that remain in Darwin during the AFLW season is well supported.
Watching on from the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre in Darwin with her children, Buffaloes and NT Thunder teammates, work colleagues and AFLNT staff, Roberts was ecstatic.
"I'm very excited and just super proud to have this opportunity. I look forward to meeting the other Collingwood players, seeing what the AFLW is all about and giving it a real crack," she said.
NT Thunder VFLW Head Coach for 2019, Heidi Thomspon said Roberts was deserving of the opportunity.
"Mickey goes about her business with minimum fuss and is an absolute competitor who knows how to find goals. She has plenty of 'x-factor' with her turn of speed and agility. She used her left foot extremely well in high-pressure situations and can really turn a match.
"Mickey is tough and will give you everything out on the field. We have been impressed with her commitment to doing the extras post VFLW season to get the best out of her strong body.
"We are absolutely rapt for Mickey and her family. To see her on an AFLW list is outstanding and a great reward for her exceptional past two years," she said.
AFLNT Manager of Talent and Pathways, Wally Gallio, echoed Thompson's sentiments and also paid respect to the players who did not get drafted today.
"Mickey showed what hard work and sacrifice can bring; she used the program and its resources to the full extent and each time she took the field she knew that she was prepared.
"Managing three children, work and the rest of her family obligations this is a great reward for her efforts both on and off the field.
"Players that weren’t drafted today, it is tough to understand why not but the reality is that the women’s talent is ever-increasing and we need to continue to work in promoting and excelling our players better each year as the competition (AFLW) ramps up.
"They are all resilient and will no doubt look to get better through the NTFL and the pathway opportunities that open up for them in the future," he said.
Roberts becomes the 14th NT-affiliated player to be listed on an AFLW squad. The current active NT players in the AFLW system are; Adelaide Crows - Angela Foley, Danielle Ponter, Stevie-Lee Thompson and Gold Coast SUNS - Jasmyn Hewett, Jordann Hickey, Sally Riley and Tayla Thorn.