Madeline Barton is living her dream.
The Calder Cannons footballer will jet off to Perth later this month as part of the Victorian under-15 girls side, ready to take on the country’s best in the National Championships.
It’s an opportunity she is still pinching herself about.
“I screamed a bit when I heard,” Barton said.
“I was feeling pretty good, and my brother asked if I was an emergency and I said ‘no, I’m in the team’ so that was pretty cool.
“We’ve had a few training sessions as a squad and the girls are really nice and I think we’ll have a really good team.
“I can’t wait to just play footy for a week, and playing against the best girls in Australia is a huge opportunity.”
Barton, 14, started her football journey at Woodend where she did Auskick with her brothers, but has been playing for the past three seasons at Keilor.
She made the interleague side this season and from there earned a spot in the Calder Cannons’ under-15 girls development squad.
It was making the Cannons’ squad which first put the thought of state trials in her mind.
“I started to take it a bit more seriously after that and thought I’d try out for the state team, and I got it,” she said.
“I play mainly in the ruck with a bit of time forward, but I prefer going forward and kicking a goal.”
She said playing her first couple of years of matches in a mixed side helped toughen her up and accelerate her development before moving into an all girls team three years ago.
“I quite liked playing with the boys,” she said. “It was a lot tougher and I like that. When I started playing in a girls side there were less sides so you played the same sides a bit, and a lot of the girls hadn’t played before so the skill level dropped a bit.
“That was a few years ago, now there’s more sides, more players and the standard is much higher.”
The success of the inaugural AFLW season earlier this year has further encouraged Barton to continue her football journey and aim for the national stage.
“I’m a Bombers supporter and they’ve put in a bid to join the competition … hopefully they’re in there by the time I’m ready to be drafted.”