Williams and Baird land AFLW dream

Stephanie Williams and Janet Baird

The Northern Territory has added two players to AFLW clubs for 2021 following the NAB AFL Women's Draft. Stephanie Williams from the Darwin Buffaloes was taken with pick number 27 by the Geelong Cats, and Janet Baird from the Palmerston Magpies was taken with pick number 54 to the Gold Coast SUNS.

The announcement came in front of 60 excited people gathered at the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre in Darwin, including Stephanie's family and friends who had her on the phone from Geelong.

They were amongst 57 young women selected on Tuesday night's Draft. 

Baird, originally from Arnhem Land and now 20-years-old, is often referred to as a shining example of resilience and persistence after not being picked up in her Draft year and injuries hampering her ahead of the 2019 Draft. 

A 2018/19 Gwynne Medallist (NTFL Women's best and fairest) and 2017/18 NTFL Women's Rising Star, she has played 47 Premier League games and kicked 22 goals for the Palmerston Magpies.

Baird, who can play as an outside midfielder or as a medium-sized forward, also played NT Thunder Under 18s, national Allies and was in the NT Thunder VFL team.

She is no stranger to the SUNS, having spent two weeks training with the AFLW squad earlier this year in the lead-up to the Under 18 All-Stars game and AFLW Draft Combine. 

Williams was also part of the high-performance experiences at the SUNS but ended up at the Cats after nominating Victoria as her region in the state-based Draft system.

A proud Larrakia woman, the 18-year-old is currently completing year 12 at Geelong College, where she has boarded for the past couple of years and is now a school leader. 

She has also represented NT Thunder Under 18s and the Central Allies as an electric small forward who has speed, agility and power. 

For her home club, the Darwin Buffaloes, she has played 14 games in the Under 18s and picked up two premierships and a best on ground medal along the way. 

NT ThunderW Academy Coach for 2020, Heidi Thompson said Baird and Williams were worthy of their opportunity. 

"It's such an exciting time with two NT players drafted in the 2020 AFLW Draft, especially considering the disruption that COVID-19 has had with the Under 18 National Championships and VFLW season this year.

"Steph regularly creates something out of nothing with her exciting x-factor and is an inspirational young woman who is paving the way for future NT footy generations.

"Janet is a smooth mover with silky skills and is calm and composed under pressure. She has taken her game to the next level by completing all the extras and getting her body in excellent shape over the pre-season.

"We are rapt for Janet, Steph and their families and we are so proud of them for overcoming past adversities and getting the chance to be on an AFLW list," she said. 

Williams and Baird become the 15th and 16th NT-affiliated player to be listed on an AFLW squad since the inaugural AFL Women's Draft in 2016.