FORMER Albury High School girls football coach Craig Day knew Gabriella Pound had something special as early as 2012.
Coaching the now Carlton star in a schools competition, Day was forced to shift Pound to full-back as Albury High came under seige against Xavier.
“They were all over us, I had to put 'Gab’ down at full back just to try and get the ball out of there,” he said.
“She was just peeling off 50 metre torpedoes almost every kick-out.
“It was actually attracting quite a crowd.”
Pound was selected by Carlton with pick 30 in the inaugural AFL Women's Draft on Wednesday afternoon.
After seeing Pound struggle for opportunities to play during her high school years, Day was hopeful that would change in the years to come.
“Gabriella was a standout player for a number of years,” he said.
“The most exciting thing about it is that there's a pathway there for them now, something tangible.
“Girls can imagine themselves playing on the MCG, it's just brilliant.”
Current Albury High student Charlotte Beavan, 15, said it was good to see women's football being taken seriously.
“Because women's football is so new, other sports like netball and basketball still take priority for a lot of girls,” she said.
“But once footy becomes more available it’ll get bigger and bigger.
“There’s more pathways now, growing up you see the boys, they get to play every weekend, we’re playing every second weekend now.
“Girls are slowly getting there.”
While pleased that the prospect of a professional football career was suddenly much more realistic for his students, Day said there was a long way to go before there was parity between the men’s and women’s leagues.
“The pay scales don’t match up yet, but it’s a fantastic opportunity that will hopefully filter down to the local leagues,” he said.
"It absolutely has to filter down, otherwise football won’t be able to compete with other sports because kids won’t be playing the game on a consistent basis.
“It’s incredibly important to have a game that is played by men and women – the same game, same format.
“It breaks down some gender stereotypes, I think that’s important for promoting a whole bunch of other understanding, not necessarily on the football field.”
The first AFL Women’s league is set to start in March next year, with eight teams competing.