Catholic College Sale student Acacia Sutton is among the country’s best young footballers, representing Victoria at the National Under 15 AFL Championships in Albury this week.

School Sport Australia’s 2022 National Under 15 AFL Championships commenced last Saturday, with more than 300 of Australia’s most talented Under 15 footballers walking the field for the opening ceremony at Lavington Sports Ground.

Acacia is one of Gippsland’s three female representatives in the championships, joined by Addison Howe and Ella Stoddart from Traralgon.

On Sunday morning, (July 24) for day one of the championships, the boys from New South Wales and South Australia were the first to play in the five-day-long event, in which a whopping 30 games of Australian Rules Football will be played by the end of the championships tomorrow.

The first opponent for the Victorian girls was Queensland.

State teams consist of 25 players, which requires a rotation of three players to sit out each game. Acacia supported her team from the bench in the first round, getting her rotation out of the way as soon as possible.

The girls lost 4.3 (27) to 9.6 (60).

These nationals are the first such event for Acacia; an exciting achievement for the young footballer following her hard work through the Football Acadamy Program at Catholic College .

Sale’s Acacia Sutton, pictured with Victorian Under 15 National football coach Andrew Fischer and team manager Claire Cartwright.

Catholic College Sale Sports Academy supports students as they develop essential skills to physically and mentally prepare them for sport at an elite level, and assists students in progressing their sporting talents through various local and state representation pathways.

With her older and younger brother both avid footballers and her dad a football player in his youth, who transitioned to umpiring following an injury, it seems Acacia was born to play Australian Rules Football.

“I was only a little kid when I started playing,” she said.

When Acacia isn’t gallivanting across the country showcasing her talents, she plays Youth Girls Football for Sale City Football-Netball Club.

Acacia has been named best-on-ground in five out of the 11 games for Sale City in the Female Football Gippsland competition this year, with a total goal score of 53.

The second game for the Vic girls, the first for Acacia at the championships, was on Monday against New South Wales.

“It is pretty exciting,” Acacia told the Gippsland Times heading into the match.

“It has been a really good experience so far.

“I am looking forward to playing against tougher competition and getting to know all the girls on the team.”

With one day left to go in the championships, Acacia has already set her sights on her next goal, the 2023 Victoria Country football team, another stepping stone towards AFL Women’s.

“I really want to go professional,” Acacia said.

“I really hope I make it.”

On day two of the nationals the Vic girls beat NSW 5.9 (39) to 3.3 (21).

Players participated in a Cultural Immersion Day on Tuesday, heading to the Buraja Cultural Centre, before Round 3 was played on Wednesday.

The Under 15 girls from Victoria faced ACT in Round 3, thrashing Australia’s capital team 16.19 (115) to 0.0 (0).

In the second final game of the nationals, the Victorian girls were the first game of the day, taking on their Western Australia opponents.

Today, the teams enjoy a rest, before facing their final opponents in the last round.

The Under 15 Victorian Girls take on South Australia tomorrow.

Maffra footballer and former Port Adelaide player Danny Butcher is head of the football academy at Catholic College Sale, and works closely alongside young stars like Acacia.

“My advice to Acacia is to trust her talent and back herself as she is often her own worst critic,” Butcher said.

“She is passionate, driven, committed and very professional for someone her age.

“The Catholic College Sale community is very proud of her and her achievements!”

Acacia is just one of the extremely talented footballers progressing through the academy at Catholic College.

So far this year, the 2022 football academy cohort has seen Max Stobie and Asher Eastham play in the Under 16 Boys Victoria Country Football Championships, Ashley Centra and Jemma Birss in the Under 16 Girls Victoria Country Football Championships, as well as Acacia in the Under 15 Girls Victoria Country Football Championships.

Max Stobie, Asher Eastham, Kaden McCulloch and Ashton Wright were named players in this year’s Under 16 Boys Gippsland Power team, alongside Ashley Centra and Jemma Birss, who were selected for the Under 16 Girls Gippsland Power side.

Bella Daly, Lilly-May Dillow, Chloe Rees, Grace Dillow, Acacia Sutton, Isabelle Elson and Harry Tatterson were the Catholic College Sale football academy players selected for the 2022 V/Line Cup Gippsland Team.