Montana Ham - the Standout
'The advice I would give is to work hard and listen to your coaching staff as they are there to help you. Never give up on your dreams and most importantly enjoy yourself and have fun.'
Who are some of the most promising players to keep an eye on from the great football state of Victoria?
Well one player that certainly comes to mind is young Montana Ham from the Western Jets.
With a career stretching back nine years, this talented prospect has already carved herself a bright footballing path. A path that includes state appearances, leadership roles and even All-Australian selections.
But before we get caught up with just how much she has managed to achieve already, it is best to start at the very beginning.
For Montana, she first got a taste of football at a very young age, beginning AusKick at just age four at Hillside. She would then go onto get her first taste of club football at age seven, donning the colours of the Hillside Sharks and playing alongside the boys for four years.
She would then make the move to the girl’s team at Keilor where she has resided for the last five years and currently still does.
On top of this, she has also been wearing the colours of the Western Jets in the NAB League for three years.
‘Playing for the Western Jet has given me the opportunity to really develop as a player. The support I get from both the coaches and my teammates is amazing.
‘As a team we push and inspire each other to be the best we can. I have improved on my skills and decision making which has enhanced the way I play the game.’
The fact that Montana continues to develop and attempt to enhance her own game, does help explain why she has become quite the promising prospect over her nine years of playing.
And it is this same high level of dedication that has seen her achieve a considerable amount within the last nine years.
Her first major achievement and one of her favourite memories to date, came in 2012 when she won the EDFL Best and Fairest for the U10 boys, the same award that she would also finish runner-up to in 2013.
She has also played in two Premierships with the U12 girls and one with the U15s girls. As well as this, she also made the EDFL U15 Girls Representative team in three different years.
However, as impressive as these accolades are it has been the last three years of football that have really made Montana shine.
As 2018 saw her receive the Best U15 Player award for the Western Jets, which is fitting because one of her favourite moments from her career thus far was when she made her NAB League debut with the Jets.
‘Running out with such a fun and supportive group of girls will be something I will never forget.’
Also, in 2018 she made the SSV U15 girls’ Victorian team, the same team she would be named the Vice-Captain of and receive the Best Player award for.
For her efforts during that competition, she was recognised and rewarded with an All-Australian selection.
As remarkable as 2018 was for Montana, the best part is that she was able to top it in 2019, as she once again represented team Victoria, except this time she was named as Co-Captain.
‘Being captain of the SSV Team Vic state side was one of the most rewarding roles I have done. Being Captain of the state side taught me how to be a mentor, a team player and it also has helped me to develop my leadership skills.
‘It was the most amazing experience to lead such a talented and highly skilled group of girls. I enjoyed every second of it.’
And once again, her efforts in 2019 also saw her go onto receive an All-Australian selection.
To add icing to the cake, team Victoria also claimed gold in both the 2018 and 2019 competitions.
‘One of my favourite moments would be in 2018 when we won gold at the SSA under 15 girls AFL Championship.
‘Winning gold and taking out the trophy with such a lovely group of girls, was one of the most exhilarating moments of my football career and to repeat it all again in 2019 when I was Co-Captain.’
With leadership roles, state appearances and All-Australian selections, it is hard to see how Montana could become any better. That was at least before we asked her what it was about football that she enjoys the most.
‘Playing Football has always been part of my life. As a young girl I used to watch my brothers play and remember thinking I want to be like them. I love the sense of freedom and joy I get when I am out on the field.
‘Playing the game that I love with like-minded people, there is no better feeling in the world. When I am out on the field it is like nothing else matters except being able to play the sport that I love.
And ‘I love the sense of family it creates with the players and coaching staff. You are able to bond with people that have the same interest as you. Football to me is more than a sport, it is like my extended family.’
And with this, it becomes easy to see why she received those leadership roles. While she is extremely talented, her passion and dedication towards the game are where she truly stands out.
Because, a player that plays the game and strives to be their best purely for the love of it are some of the best players around.
But with so much love for the game, it does beg the question of how she is coping now that the football season has been put on hold.
‘It has been challenging not being able to train or play with my teammates, but I have been keeping up my fitness levels by going for runs, bike rides and doing weight sessions. Making sure I am doing something every day but missing football so much.’
When football finally makes its return, we are sure that Montana will be back at her very best, because not only does she have the skills and mindset to do so, but she also has the correct support behind her.
The same support that she would like to take a quick chance to thank.
‘I would like to thank my family for always supporting and encouraging me through everything. They have always pushed me to be the best version of myself whether that is with football or in life. ‘I would especially like to thank my mum for always being in my corner. She is my number one supporter and I do not think I would have made it this far without her support. Thank you for all your advice and guidance that you have given me Mum.
‘Also, I am very thankful for the friendships that I have made through playing football. They will be my closest friends for life. ‘And finally, I would like to thank all my coaching staff for encouraging and pushing me to get better, and for all the guidance they give me and for helping me to grow not only as a player but as a person.’
So, what is next for this standout Victorian prospect?
Well, ‘one of my goals is to keep improving on my left kick, so I can use both side of my body equally.’
And ‘another goal I would love to achieve would be selection into the under 16’s Vic metro team if we are lucky enough to get the chance this year.’
It is a real shame that the 2020 Nab League season had to be suspended, as she had collected a total of 61 disposals, 15 marks, eight tackles and a goal from just the first three games.
But in her own words, she is just ‘really looking forward to the day we get to go back and play football.’
And likewise, we are really looking forward to when we get to see her play again, because it is bound to be something special.
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None of these photographs are owned by MWM, all images were supplied by the player.