Elisabeth Georgostathis - the Daughter of the West
"Just to keep going and never give up. There were a couple times where I didn’t make the Victorian squad and team and as much as it is a letdown, it pushed me to work harder. So, my advice would be just keep going, work hard and you will be rewarded."
Draft Day, there are not many other times during a footballer’s career that can cause as much excitement and nerves at the same time. Having to sit there, pick by pick, hoping to hear your name get called out would be an emotional time to say the least—especially if your name is not read out until the later rounds.
But for Elisabeth Georgostathis, she did not have to wait long at all. In fact, it was not that long after the draft had begun that she knew that she was heading to the Australian Football League Women’s competition.
However it was a long time coming for Elisabeth, whose footballing journey practically speaks for itself—and its nothing short of impressive.
Her footballing journey began five years prior to that fateful Draft Day, which makes it around six years by 2021 standards. It all began through a mixture of a family connection, being too rough for non-contact sport, and a well-timed social media post.
“Well, my brothers played at East Keilor and I would usually go to their games and watch them, and I would also boundary umpire their games.”
“But I think a post came up on Facebook about a youth girls team starting at East Keilor and I thought, ‘why not just give it a try’.
“I had been playing netball for quite a while before and I was always too rough for netball as it being a non-contact sport, and I would always get a warning, so I think I just needed a more contact sport.”
With this, ‘why not just give it a try’ attitude, Elisabeth began her footballing journey with St. Albans, which then later converted into the Western Spurs.
It was her time spent boundary umpiring and being around her brothers' football matches that helped her pick up the game and rules rather quickly, well that and she “also just loved watching the footy”.
As well as this, her footy journey was also impacted and helped a lot by her parents, especially during its early stages when she was still quite young.
“… They would always be busy driving me and my two brothers around to work and our footy trainings so without them and their support, I would not be able to get where I was.”
After impressing in local level football, she then found her way to the Western Jets in the NAB League Girls competition—and it was over the next five years in the blue and yellow that her promising football career really begun to take shape.
“Jets was amazing, I enjoyed every year there, especially towards the last few years where we started to win some games.”
“It is a great program for young girls to develop their skills and learn about footy. I made so many friendships with a lot of the girls there despite there being a small age group difference between us.”
2017 was the first sign of what was yet to come for Elisabeth, as she finished that NAB League Girls season by finishing runner-up to the Western Jets Best and Fairest—but this pales in comparison to what she managed to pull off over the next two seasons.
Winning the 2018 Women’s Division One Best and Fairest with the Spurs set the tone for the next 24 months of impressive football, and she would go onto finish 2018 by also claiming the Western Jets Best and Fairest.
She continued her title of the Western Jets Best and Fairest player as she claimed the honour again after a strong 2019 season, which “was an amazing feeling” to go back-to-back.
“… I felt like my hard work had been paid off, and I had been rewarded for it.”
Her strong NAB League Girls performance also saw her make the 2019 NAB League Team of the Year and she finished runner-up to the 2019 NAB League Girls Best and Fairest.
As if that was not enough, she also represented Victoria Metro and topped off a strong 2019 season by playing with the Bulldogs in the VFLW Grand Final—the latter of which was a very “memorable footy moment” for her.
“… It was the biggest stage I have ever played on (Ikon Park) and the whole feeling was indescribable and one that I will cherish forever.”
But all of this success was made sweeter by the fact that Elisabeth was also the Captain of the Western Jets for the 2019 season—meaning that she certainly led by example, an example that she labels as being “such a great opportunity”.
“… It was my last year at the Jets I was one of the oldest there and it was such a great privilege. I had watched and looked up to all the other Captains as I was going through my time at the Jets, and I hope the younger girls also looked up to me.”
Following this standout 2019 season, there was one very special moment yet to happen. Which was the moment that her whole footy career had been leading towards—and that moment was when the ninth pick was read out during the 2019 NAB AFL Women’s Draft.
“It was such an amazing feeling; I was certainly not expecting to get drafted as early as I did.”
“It was so overwhelming; I went up on stage then was straight away taken into a room at the back where there were so many photos and interviews being done and yeah it was just an absolute crazy day.”
“But I am so thankful to Bulldogs for picking me up.”
Even after making it to the AFLW there was still one more challenge for Elisabeth, which was adjusting to the skill level and demands of the AFLW—which even after five years in the NAB League Girls competition, it was still “a massive step up”.
“… Everything about it changed. I felt as much as it was a team at Western Jets, we were sort of all in a competition against each other as we were all trying to make the playing squad and do the best we can to show ourselves off.”
“Whereas, at the Dogs I feel it’s much more team oriented and we push each other to make others better which helps us work well as a team.”
“There was also a step up in the size of the girls obviously, AFLW girls are much more stronger and body mature so I do get pushed and bumped around quite easily compared to NAB, however I suppose it is all just a part of the game which I love.”
However, despite the massive step up she must have adjusted very well as she would go onto play all six games during the shortened AFLW season. Averaging eight disposals and four tackles a match, she ended up finishing the season in fifth place for the Western Bulldogs 2020 Best and Fairest, an impressive feat for a debutant season.
“… It was so unexpected, and I didn’t believe it at all. But I am so happy and cannot wait to keep improving for next season.”
It was not long after joining the Western Bulldogs that she got to experience what she says has been her favourite footballing moment of her journey thus far, which was “making my debut at Moorabbin Oval against St Kilda”.
“… It was such an exciting day and moment. I was so nervous but excited at the same time and it made it even better to share it with some of my other teammates.”
Another standout moment from her debut season came in Round Six, which was a very unique round of football to say the least.
“… Our last game against Fremantle, where there were no crowds allowed because of COVID so we had to create our own energy and own support.”
“Although we did not get the win, I felt in that game we connected most as a team and performed well. It was definitely a different environment, but it was sort of nice to be able to hear what is happening on the field.”
But from Round One to Round Six, on and off the field, and just about everything in-between, it is safe to say that she enjoyed her debut AFLW season in the blue, red and white.
“It was incredible, it is so hard to describe the feeling of just being a part of the Dogs team and the environment.”
“I enjoyed every single moment of it whether it was trainings to games and just doing any other activities with my teammates, it was the best.
“Unfortunately, it got cut short one game, but I am super excited for the next season and to be out there in the field again.”
So, after six incredible years of footy, what is the next chapter for this talented player in the blue, red and white?
In her own words, her goal for the future is “definitely getting to play more games”.
“… I just love getting on the field with my teammates and doing something I love.”
Keeping in mind just how big of a role she ended up playing with the Western Jets and the start that she has already enjoyed with the Western Bulldogs—there is a good chance that Elisabeth Georgostathis can become a very big part of the Bulldogs for many more years to come.
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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.