Wagga Wagga has added another name to its growing list of Australian rules footballers who have made the leap to the AFL.
Former Turvey Park Bulldog and Ainslie FC product Cleo Buttifant blitzed her way to a round-one selection at the AFLW Draft on Monday night (18 December), chosen at pick 11 by the Western Bulldogs.
Buttifant and her family couldn’t contain their excitement as the GWS Giants Academy prospect’s name was called out in front of a packed room at Marvel Stadium.
Buttifant said she was thankful to her family, who jumped at the opportunity to attend the event once she was invited.
“As soon as I was invited to this, every single one of them jumped at the opportunity to come,” Buttifant said.
“I’m so grateful for everyone and I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for every single one of them.”
Buttifant already has an outstanding sporting resume, having represented Australia in mixed touch football at the Asia Pacific Youth Touch Cup in May this year.
Despite her talent, Buttifant believes she still has a lot to learn, with room to grow her skills and knowledge of the game.
“I feel like I’ve improved even just playing a few games this year,” she said.
”The improvement, I feel there’s still more to come, so it’s exciting to see what will happen.”
The impressive key defender only started playing Australian rules in the past two years, but according to AFL talent ambassador Kevin Sheehan, Buttifant has already displayed her natural athleticism and blistering pace, which helped her stand out against other draftees.
“She showed distinct AFLW potential playing for both the GWS Giants Academy and the Allies this year,” Sheehan said.
“She has dazzling pace and displayed a preparedness to take the game on with her run from defence. She averaged 17 disposals in her two games for the Giants in the Coates Talent League and was one of the Allies’ most consistent players at the national championships, averaging 14 disposals and three tackles.
“She was also named among her side’s best against Victoria Metro and Western Australia. She also produced a 56 cm effort in the standing vertical jump at the Draft Combine, which placed her inside the top 10 nationally.”
Buttifant will make the move to Whitten Oval in the new year and begin her pre-season shortly after.