It is fair to say that 18 year old Saints winger Georgia Patrikios has hit the ground running in her debut season as an AFL-W player, showing few teething problems in transitioning to the game’s elite level in this country.

Having been drafted by St Kilda as their number one draft choice for the expansion club’s first ever AFL-W season in 2020, Patrikios was nominated for the NAB Rising Star after just her first AFL-W match earlier this month against the Western Bulldogs producing 18 disposals. Since then, she’s continued to be one of the Saints’ best performers, showing a maturity beyond her years and helping the team to its first ever AFL-W win last weekend in the match against Melbourne.

Speaking on ‘Credit to the Girls’ AFL-W podcast midweek, Patrikios described the club’s maiden win as “an unreal feeling. All the girls were so happy singing the club song at the end. Everyone was so happy to see everyone’s hard work paid off.”

Described as a silky winger, adept at kicking with either foot, and who appears to have lots of time and space with the footy, Patrikios is one of a generation of younger footballers who are showing the benefits of having the opportunity to come through player development pathway.

It’s helped her adjust to the increased pace and physicality of the AFL-W level in her first season. She says, “I think just coming through the pathway with the boys helped me a little bit. Playing with the boys definitely helped me with that a bit. Playing the game for a long time since I was younger also helps me read the game a bit better and have a bit more time and space.”

She adds that coming up through the talented player pathway system also “really helped me meet new people and grow my love for the game.”

She began playing team football when she was 15 at Pascoe Vale U 18’s before being scouted by Calder Cannons and progressing through their pathways to the U 18s. She also represented Vic Metro at three National Championships (winning the player of the championship award last season) and was a member of the AFL Under 18 academy.

She told Credit to the Girls, “Playing Nationals is unreal. You get to play with all the best girls and against all the best girls in the country. That was pretty cool. You go to the national carnivals to play footy but you also meet girls there that are friends for life. Girls like Maddy Prespakis (Carlton Star) they’re really close. So you meet girls that you really enjoy being with and hanging out with outside of football. It really helps to create those bonds.”

She added that the AFL Under 18 Academy program, “really helped us work on the professionalism needed to come into the AFL-W. So we had a few sessions at AFL-W clubs. Trained with Collingwood and North Melbourne. Being welcomed into those environments and being able to train, it really showed what’s needed to be a part of those programs. It really opened my eyes to what’s to come hopefully in the future. So now being at the Saints, it’s really helped me fit in nicely.”