Charlotte Baskaran - the Exciting Jet
'... Always listen to coaches feedback, whether it’s good or bad and take in your stride to always improve. Always have fun and give that extra little bit because you’ll be surprised how much you can push your boundaries.'
With the 2020 NAB AFLW Draft right around the corner, many young players will get to fulfill their dream of playing in the top tier of women’s football.
But who are the exciting prospects that will follow suit in the years to come?
Well, going by the dream start that she had to the 2020 NAB League Girls season, one such player that has the potential to one day join them at the top is young Charlotte Baskaran.
2020 marks Charlotte’s fourth season of playing football which began with the U12s at the Aberfeldie Football Club where she would get selected for the EDFL Interleague team on three occasions—from here, she would then don the blue and yellow of the Jets for the first time at age 13.
As for the dream start that Charlotte had this season, she managed to collect a total of 61 disposals and 18 tackles from just the first and only three matches of this year.
However, by looking at her sporting past it is easy to see that this standout performance was years in the making—because she has been finding success in sport even before her days of playing football as she did athletics for six years and ‘Started to really focus on my running ability’.
‘… I was then competing at higher levels and really enjoying keeping fit and active.’
And this focus certainly paid off as she won the Victorian Little Athletics 100m Stawell Gift Sprint in 2016, she also competed at nationals, and holds a state record for the 400m.
And perhaps the greatest thing on her athletics resume is the fact that she has won 12 medals overall.
But after six years of athletics, Charlotte decided that she wanted to start playing a winter sport, and after strapping on the footy boots for the first time she found that footy was her true calling.
‘I loved every aspect of the game both on and off the field, with meeting new people and playing in a team environment. I then realised that footy was my passion and decided to just enjoy athletics for the fun of it.’
But even with the shift between sports, that doesn’t mean her years of athletics were for nothing, as any football fan can tell you that athletics is a very beneficial background to come from.
‘I believe that my athletic background has definitely assisted and helped my ability in footy. From such a young age I put in dedication and hard work to get where I am today, and I’m always willing to learn and grow from my experiences, peers and most importantly, coaches.’
It was here that she joined the Aberfeldie Football Club, and she proved to be a very valuable part of the club as she would go onto play in two Premierships with them and would claim their Best and Fairest on three separate occasions.
‘My time at Aberfeldie has been the best from the start. I started at a time where the program was just developing as a 12s girl player. Throughout this, I have made so many great friends.
‘In particular, I would like to mention one of my coaches Jim Pound. His support and encouragement towards my development, helped me play the best I could.’
With performances like this, it is no wonder that she also played in the U15s Interleague side on three occasions and even Captained the side in 2019.
But this far from Charlotte’s only accolades, as she also claimed the 2019 AFL Endeavour Award at the Maribyrnong Sports Academy, represented Victoria in the 2018 AFL Multicultural Program where she was also Captain—and last year she represented Australia in the All Stars AFL RIO TINTO Diversity Program.
And just in case that was not enough, Charlotte also represented Victoria in the U15 Australian School Sport Championship in 2018 and 2019, with her side claiming gold on both occasions.
But despite enjoying a very successful career at only a young age, Charlotte has managed to remain very humble—best shown through what experiences she values the most from this very successful time.
‘Some of my favourite moments from footy so far would have to be meeting so many amazing people in the industry of AFL and taking on new experiences.
‘I have been able to travel all over Australia, and play on various footy grounds, which is really fun and exciting. In general, footy overall has come with many positive outcomes and is always fun.’
Of course, with a sporting career like this, it is no wonder that she made such an impact during the first three matches of the 2020 NAB League Girls season, but she has been loving her time with the Western Jets long before the start of this season.
‘I would describe my time at the Jets over the past couple of years as a big learning step towards my development. The coaches are always supportive and positive, and assisting in any way possible.
‘At the beginning I was a little bit nervous and unsure about what was required, but I then adapted and tried my best. The environment around the culture at the jets is family orientated.
‘Over this time of isolation, it has made me realise how much I miss training with them and spending company around my friends. ‘I am also lucky enough to have my best friend and training buddy Montana Ham. We both challenge each other against our strengths and weaknesses. Going along this journey together is something I will cherish forever, and I am so excited to see where our future goes.’
But as well as being a proud team player and a very talented one at that, she is also very passionate about the game itself as she says simply, ‘… Playing footy makes me happy’.
‘Being around people who are like minded and enjoy the same area of field is cool. I find it interesting that wherever footy takes me I learn and develop so much as a person, both on and off the field, and watching it.
‘As a competitive person I love the challenges and little hurdles I have to overcome with structure and routine in training. Footy has given me so many fun memories and experiences.’
It is this same gratitude that sees her appreciate those who have helped throughout her footballing journey, whether that is her footy clubs, or the Maribyrnong Sports Academy AFL Program and the Multicultural and Diversity coaches, ‘In particular Akec Chuot and David Rodan’ or of course, her beloved mum and dad--her appreciation towards them remains the same.
But what is next chapter for this exciting Jet?
‘Some goals of mine are to always keep persisting in learning and developing my skills. In particular, a focus around overhead marking because it is a skill that I find very important in the game.
‘Also, I have been working on becoming more fearless in my style and attack of play. Lastly, a future goal of mine is to take on a more outgoing and leadership-like role in my community and any pathways in the future.’
Despite playing for only four years, she has certainly carved a very bright footballing journey—a journey that could very well see Charlotte Baskaran one day follow this year’s 2020 AFLW draftees.
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM; all images have been supplied by the player and have been personally shot.