Bright future ahead as Junior stars shine
It’s fair to say that Lilli-Yanna Moody has taken to AFL like a duck to water!
In just her second season playing with the Sawtell Toormina Saints, the former Australian Junior Basketball representative was named the Nikki Wallace Medallist as the Best and Fairest player in the North Coast Youth Girls Competition.
Wallace was a member of the Brisbane Lions team in the first season of the AFLW competition and is now Vice Captain of the North Melbourne Kangaroos in the VFLW. Wallace was herself a former Sawtell Toormina Saints Junior and acknowledged this connection to Lilli in announcing the award online.
There’s no question that Lilli has the talent to go all the way to the AFLW too.
Runner-up in the Best & Fairest was shared between Lilli’s Sawtell stablemate Poppy Johnston and Bellingen Bulldogs jet Deja Barlow.
Poppy has had a major influence on the competition in her two seasons in the region since her family moved from the Geelong area. Last season, Poppy claimed the Nikki Wallace Medal and this year was a key member of the Sydney Swans Top End Academy Program.
In addition to being joint Runner-up in the Best & Fairest, Deja was also named as the Rising Star for the second season in a row. This award is for the player in the bottom half of the age group, and the fact that Deja has now won this twice has made everyone sit up and take notice of young and talented she is.
Deja was recovering from a serious injury in the first half of the season, but stormed home in the voting through the last few rounds and would have been a serious contender for the top award at full fitness for the entire season.
2021 NIKKI WALLACE MEDAL (Youth Girls Best & Fairest)
- Lilli-Yana Moody (Sawtell Toormina)
- Poppy Johnston (Sawtell Toormina)
- Deja Barlow (Bellingen Bulldogs)
- Amaia Wain (Bellingen Bulldogs)
- Tyleah Larcombe (Grafton Tigers)
Jai Bowd proved that persistence pays off when he received his first major League award.
Jai has always been a strong performer in every age group and has been a regular in North Coast Force representative teams, but has never previously been recognized for his performance across a full season. In 2021 Jai took his game to a new level to break that duck in style and claim the Best & Fairest award in a hotly contested field.
The player who was hottest on Jai’s heels was Beau Guthrie from Coffs Harbour Breakers. Beau was a joint winner of the Best & Fairest in 2020 and capped another stellar season this time around.
Both Jai and Beau step up to the Under 17 age group next season, opening the door for a new wave of players to be the leaders of the Under 15 competition.
Tane Skinner from Sawtell Toormina Saints stepped up from the Under 13 age group where he was last year’s recipient of the Best and Fairest and claimed the Under 15 Rising Star award. This award is presented to the bottom age player (i.e. Under 14) that polls the highest count in the Under 15 competition.
UNDER 15 BEST & FAIREST
- Jai Bowd (Bellingen Bulldogs)
- Beau Guthrie (Coffs Harbour Breakers)
- Tane Skinner (Sawtell Toormina Saints)
- Cedar Barry (Port Macquarie Magpies)
- Serge Denblyden (Northern Beaches Blues)
The race for the Under 13 Best and Fairest was as tight as the race for the age group’s minor premiership.
Isaac Luke (Port Macquarie Magpies) claimed a narrow victory to be awarded the Ackerly Colliver Medal as Best & Fairest in the age group.
Isaac continues on his outstanding development trajectory that saw his named as Under 11 Rising Star in 2018, Under 11 Best & Fairest in 2019, Under 13 Rising Star in 2020, and now Under 13 Best and Fairest for 2021.
The Ackerly Colliver Medal is newly minted in 2021 to honour the incredible work of Kevin Ackerly and Ronda Colliver in both local footy and their local community.
Lincoln Chambers from Coffs Harbour Breakers was a very close second to claim the medal as Runner-up in the Best and Fairest. Lincoln was also Runner-up to Isaac in the Under 11 Best & Fairest two seasons ago and these two players are forging a healthy personal rivalry that’s becoming as strong as the one between their two teams.
Tobie Quinn of the Port Macquarie Magpies was named as the Rising Star in the Under 13 age group, being the bottom age player (i.e. Under 12) to poll the highest count.
ACKERLY COLLIVER MEDAL (Under 13 Best & Fairest)
- Isaac Luke (Port Macquarie Magpies)
- Lincoln Chambers (Coffs Harbour Breakers)
- Luke Gough (Coffs Harbour Breakers)
- Mitchell White (Port Macquarie Magpies)
- Harry Mitchell (Northern Beaches Blues)
Zane Guthrie has finally completed his time in the Under 11 competition, signing off with the Best & Fairest medal.
Zane started playing Under 11 in 2019 as a nine year old and immediately marked himself as a star of the future when he won the Rising Star award competing for this award against players who were 12 months older than him. He then backed that up with a second Rising Star medal in 2020, and has now rounded out his tenure in the Under 11 age group with the highest honour.
Xavier Mat of Port Macquarie is well and truly taking his lead from Guthrie, completing a rare double by winning both the Rising Star award and being the Runner-up in the Under 11 age group despite giving away plenty in age as a ten year old.
UNDER 11 BEST & FAIREST
- Zane Guthrie (Coffs Harbour Breakers)
- Xavier Mat (Port Macquarie Magpies)
- Riley Bechaz-Hatton (South West Rocks Dockers)
- Jude Couzens (Sawtell Toormina Saints)
- Oto Ryan (Port Macquarie Magpies)