After an outstanding year, emerging West Coast Eagles defender Charlie Thomas was crowned the 2023
AFLW Club Champion.

In her third season, Thomas enjoyed a break-out campaign, with the exciting young defender stamping herself as a stable and reliable pillar in the Eagles backline.

Thomas finished in the top five in the League for rebound 50s, with her pace and determination in the back half leading to multiple game-changing moments.

Managing 42 marks for the year, Thomas’ stats rivalled some of the most experienced and talented defenders in the competition.

Thomas said hearing her name called out as Club Champion was unexpected.

“I was a bit surprised to be honest, but very grateful,” Thomas said.

“I was also so proud of the other award winners, I thought Ella (Roberts) did really well and was right up there, and ‘B’ (Belinda Smith) won the Trademark Player award which was very deserving.”

Thomas displayed her versatility in round nine, when she was moved forward and had an immediate impact, kicking the first goal of her AFLW career.

This season highlighted the talented youth of a developing and growing Eagles side, and 20-year-old Thomas showed skill, maturity and footy smarts well beyond her years, making a name for herself as one of the best up-and-coming defenders in the competition. 

Despite receiving a handful of impressive accolades following her fantastic season, a humble Thomas said she knows she has a lot more room to grow.

“It was pretty good, but I know I can still be so much better,” Thomas said.

“I’ve got lots of work to do in the off-season to be better for next year.

“I’m looking forward to just getting back into it.”

Reflecting on the season and what helped to elevate her game to the next level, Thomas said it consisted of both on-field and off-field factors.

“I did lots of work in the off-season with my running, and also my mental mindset, which I think helped me so much,” Thomas said.

“The off-season running and the work I did before pre-season really played a big part, and also the psychology side of it.”

Eagles’ caretaker coach and previous backline leader Rohan McHugh hailed Thomas as a pleasure to guide and develop during her time at the club.

“I’m really proud of Charlie, she’s worked really hard,” McHugh said.

“I obviously worked really closely with her as the backline coach for majority of the year, and the last two years, and she’s just the ultimate professional.

“She worked incredibly hard in the off-season doing extra running sessions, coming in and watching vision nice and early, watching players like Jeremy McGovern, Shannon Hurn and Tom Barrass and finding out how she wanted to play, and how we wanted her to play.

“It’s great reward for effort for Charlie, she’s had a fantastic year and I’m just super proud.”

The sky is the limit for Thomas, and McHugh said he can’t wait to see what she can do in the future.

“One of the best things about Charlie is that she’s keen to learn and really open to learn and really coachable, she thinks she annoys me, but she doesn’t, I love it when she comes and asks for extra information,” McHugh said.

“I’m really excited about Charlie and what she can continue to do, because she hasn’t even scratched the surface yet.”

Thomas polled 52 votes to finish ahead of teenage sensation Ella Roberts (49), with experienced Eagle Belinda Smith (48) rounding out the top three.

In a season where the leaders led by example, skipper Emma Swanson (44) and key defender Sophie McDonald (43) finished in the top-five, while leading goal-kicker Kellie Gibson (31), veteran midfielder Dana Hooker (30) and vice-captain Bella Lewis (28) followed closely behind.

The top 10 was completed with Irish star Aisling McCarthy (27) and speedy midfielder Shanae Davison (23).

After an incredibly consistent season, demonstrating excellent leadership on-field and inspiring her teammates in defence, Belinda Smith was presented with the Trademark Player award, as voted by the playing group.

Krstel Petrevski was named the Best Club Person, her exceptional attitude and positive mindset lifting the team’s spirits on a day-to-day basis, despite not taking the field herself due to an ankle injury sustained ahead of round one.

Petrevski’s club mates, in the AFLW and AFL, proudly wore her artwork for this year’s Indigenous Round, her contribution to the club going well beyond her work on the track.