Danika Spamer - the High-Flying Hawk
The Sydney Swans are set to make their long-awaited appearance in the Australian Football League Women’s (AFLW) competition. This means that they will have to put together their debut squad but, luckily for them, New South Wales has an abundance of up-and-coming footy talent.
One such example of an exciting NSW prospect just happens to be a player that is currently a part of their Under-19s Academy, who is none other than the Cardiff product, Danika Spamer.
2021 marks Danika’s fifth year of playing football and her journey thus far has been outstanding, to say the least.
In contrast to her exciting resume, this high-flying prospect had a humble beginning to her footy journey—in fact, if it was not for her friend, the footy world could have lost Danika altogether.
“I had just given up netball and was planning to give soccer a try until my friend mentioned AFL.”
“My friend asked me to play because the team was short on players, and as soon as she mentioned tackling, I was in.”
And, while she struggled a little at first with the fundamentals, it did not take long for Danika to begin making moves in footy.
“The skills took me a little while, but I came from doing middle distance running and netball, so I think that definitely helped a lot.”
2017 was the year where it all began for Danika and, along with the Cardiff Hawks, she certainly hit the ground running.
First came the Under 16s/17s Youth Girls Hunter/Central Coast Competition's 2017 Premiership with the Cardiff Hawks—which she, and the Hawks, would win again in 2018 and 2019.
Danika also played in the 2017 Hunter Under-17s representative side which played in the NSW/ACT Northern Carnival. Once again, this is a feat she would replicate in 2018 and 2019.
To top off her debut season, Danika also was named the 2017 Cardiff Hawks Under-16s Rookie of the Year.
While this was the beginning of an impressive footballing journey, it was also the start of her time with the Cardiff Hawks—time with which she says has been “pretty special”.
“… They were my introduction into AFL and have been very encouraging and supportive throughout my time with them.”
This dream beginning to her footballing life was nothing like she had planned, mainly since she “didn’t really think about it” and was instead just concentrating on playing the sport she has since grown to love.
“… I was just really enjoying learning a new sport and playing alongside my friends.”
This modest mindset can be further shown through her gratification towards those who have supported her along this extremely exciting path.
“I'd like to thank my parents, for always supporting and encouraging me and watching nearly every game, and the Cardiff Hawks AFL club and coaches for being so welcoming and supportive.”
“I would also like to thank all the Hunter Academy of Sport and the Swan's Academy coaches for helping me to continually develop my skills and gameplay.”
With the right mindset and the impressive skill set to complement it, Danika continued her impressive journey and in the process, proved that 2017 wasn’t just beginner’s luck.
2018 saw Danika be crowned as Cardiff’s Under-17s Best and Fairest, and the Hunter/Central Coast Under-17s League Best and Fairest.
Then in 2019, she was named as Cardiff Under-17s Most Consistent, while also winning the 2019/20 Under-18s Girls’ AFL Program's Best and Fairest for the Hunter Academy of Sport.
This impressive resume saw her gain a spot in the 2019/20 Rising Star Program for the Hunter Academy.
Then came 2020, a year that most would prefer to forget, but for Danika Spamer, it was perhaps her breakout year—which says a lot considering how much she had already achieved up to this point.
This is because she claimed Cardiff’s 2020 Women’s Best and Fairest as well as their Rising Star award. In case that was not enough, she also claimed the 2020 Hunter/Central Coast Black Diamond Cup Women’s Best and Fairest, the Rising Star, and the Rookie of the Year.
This clean sweep at the awards night has gone down as one of her favourite moments of her footballing journey so far because it “was unexpected yet an absolutely amazing surprise”.
“It was a bit of a shame we didn't have an awards night, so it was live-streamed on Facebook, and I had just remembered to tune in for the women's Best and Fairest and briefly caught the points from the last round before they started the final standing."
“And when it got to second place and I still hadn't seen my name I just assumed that I didn't have enough points and was knocked out.”
“Seeing my name at the top of the list was a surreal experience, and I was immediately flooded with support from my fellow Cardiff Hawks players.”
Continuing to follow this bright path into 2021, Danika played in Newcastle’s Hunter/Central Coast Women’s Premiership. She also played in a 2021 Regional Women’s Representative Premiership with the Hunter/Central Coast.
This year marked Danika’s first time spent donning the colours of the Sydney Swans, another favourite moment of hers.
“Another favourite moment would have been this year playing in the Sydney Swans Under-19s female academy against the Geelong Falcons in Geelong.”
“The team is made of an absolutely amazing group of girls. At this point, we had won one game against the GWS Under-19s Girls Academy in Sydney and then lost to them in Canberra a week later, so we weren't very confident going up against the undefeated Geelong Falcons in the NAB League.
“Before the game, we had been on a plane ride from Sydney to Melbourne and then a car ride to Geelong where we went out for dinner. The next morning before the game, we were all very quiet but a quick pre-game talk from Crouchy had us ready to come out hard and just do our best.
“I believe this, combined with our team bonding over the past two days contributed to beating the Falcons in a tough match.
“That was such an exciting time for me, as I'm sure it was for the other girls, especially because it was my first time being in a high-grade team, with not many opportunities like this for girls in the Hunter.”
And, as a prime example of talent from the Hunter/Central Coast region, Danika has been nice enough to share some wisdom that she undoubtedly followed during the early stages of her footballing life. Hoping that others from that region may also get the opportunities someday.
“Most importantly, have fun, and also try your best and take your time with skills to get that correct technique for handballs and kicks.”
So, what is the next step for this high-flying Hawk’s prospect?
“I just want to keep improving my skills, and hopefully one day, to get drafted into the AFLW.”
Danika has proven to be an extremely consistent performer and, with each passing year being better than the last, she has timed her breakout season at the perfect time.
Overall, Danika Spamer is a proud, passionate and talented NSW prospect, and we seriously doubt that we are the only ones who have noticed.
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None of these photographs is owned by MWM; all images have been supplied by the player and were personally took.