Monique Conti is proving she’s a very versatile multi-sport star by adding AFLW footballer to her already impressive resume.
Conti, a key member of the Melbourne Boomers in the Women’s National Basketball League, was selected by the Western Bulldogs with pick four of last month’s draft and is gearing up for one hell of a juggling act.
Conti, 17, said it was a shock to be called out so early on draft day.
“It was a very surreal moment,” she said. “I never expected to be drafted to an AFLW club … so to hear my name being called out at No.4 overall was definitely an exciting moment for me and my family.
“I can’t explain the feeling … I was nervous all day, but it was just an amazing moment.”
After playing in a mixed side at Essendon Doutta Stars, Conti moved to Melbourne University a few years ago to play in a female side before continuing at the club in the VFLW this year.
She played only a handful of VFLW games due to her commitments with the Australian under-19 basketball side at the world championships, but those games were enough for her to catch the eye of the Bulldog recruiters.
Finding a balance between basketball and football is tough, she admits, but she feels the sports do complement each other and so will help her improve at both.
“The Bulldogs have been very accommodating for me with my basketball, so they understand that side of things,” Conti said.
“It is definitely challenging finding the balance, but I have a lot of support around … my parents have always encouraged me to play both sports.
“Mum initially didn’t want me to play footy with the boys, so she just said I have to run really fast or I can’t play, so that’s what I did.
“I’ve been juggling both for a while, and they both definitely help each other … the fitness and physicality from football really helps in basketball, and the agility on a basketball court translates to the footy field. It all helps.”
While her Bulldog teammates start pre-season next week, Conti’s current focus is on continuing a good start to the season with the Boomers, who are fourth on the WNBL ladder.
“We’ve [Boomers] had a really good start to the season, and we’ve all gelled as a team on and off the court,” she said. “I’m happy with how I’m playing. Missing a week or so of training with year 12 exams was tough, but I’m back into it now so hopefully the form continues.
“Once I get the chance, though, I can’t wait to get down and train with the Bulldogs.”
Conti is the November nominee for the Don Deeble Rising Star award.
The award, hosted by the Sunshine Western Region Sports Club and
Star Weekly, recognises young athletes from the western suburbs who have achieved outstanding results at state and or national levels.
Conti will receive $1000, donated by the Yarraville Club Cricket Club. She will also receive other prizes to assist her in achieving her sports goals.