Draft night, an occasion that facilitates the realisation of dreams. Even for those not expecting it.
The West Coast Eagles pulled an AFLW Draft surprise on Wednesday night when they managed to keep football in the family by recruiting twins Lauren and Zoe Wakfer.
Lauren, recovering from major knee surgery after a late season injury while playing for South Fremantle in the WAFLW competition, was secured with the club’s second selection.
That was predictable with the ruck prospect selected in the all-Australian under-18 team alongside the Eagles first selection, forward-midfielder Ella Roberts.
The family twist, however, was not anticipated, even though Zoe was at Marvel Stadium for the draft event. She thought she was going in support of her sibling, but now both are part of the Eagles AFLW squad.
Zoe is a developing key defender and the Eagles recruiting staff made use of their seventh selection in the ballot to lock her into the program.
The journey of the Wakfer sisters is a remarkable story.
“I was a bit gobsmacked to be honest,” said a shocked Zoe, still processing the fact her name had been called. “I came here to support Lauren because we knew she was going to get drafted, so I didn’t rock up in the right attire.
“Now I’m here. We started junior footy together a couple of years ago and then Lauren went away and did her State programs, nationals and did WAFL for a couple of years. Then I had FOMO and did WAFL this year.
“I was here for her, but now she’s here for me too.”
Lauren will not play in the approaching season, but will have access to all of the best rehabilitation tools at Mineral Resources Park and had achieved a level of comfort through pre-draft discussions with the club.
“I have done all the hard yards and she’s just here right now, but it’s alright,” said Lauren, standing alongside her twin. “We have always played together so it’s nothing different, we just get to do it at the elite level. I guess that’s something really cool.
“We have never played apart from each other so it would have been a bit weird if we weren’t drafted together.
“I think the biggest thing (concern) was that no one was going to pick me up because I wasn’t able to play given the season is so close. I had done my knee, but I’m really lucky the Eagles have been really supportive throughout it all and made sure I was comfortable.”
It was the story of draft night with the Wakfer twins joining Roberts and exciting Swan Districts midfielder Abbygail Bushby as first round West Coast selections.
Only four years ago Lauren and Zoe answered a call for players to join local club Warnbro Swans in the Perth Football League. They immediately showed an aptitude for the game and are now within reach of impacting at the highest level of the game.
While Lauren will spend the upcoming season rehabilitation from her injury, Zoe will work towards earning an opportunity at the top level.
“I like to think of myself as versatile, being thrown around a bit,” said Lauren. “I definitely like the aerial game, taking a few grabs.
“I started playing footy in 2018. The local club needed some players to make up numbers so me, my sister and a mate said ‘why not’ went down there and took it from there.
“Beau McDonald (former Brisbane ruckman) has been such a massive help. Late last year he had a specialist come down and help us…me and Sarah Lakay who was drafted by the Eagles last year.
“We had a session on Mondays when we were just perfecting techniques, hit zones and we would just smash it out.
“I put a lot of work in over the last two years for this to be the end goal and to be here it is a dream come true.”