ON SUNDAY, Casey Demons fans were given a glimpse into the future of the program with the debut of Harmony Thomas.
It has been a tremendous rise for one of the youngest players on the Demons list, as the 17-year-old continues to progress along in her footballing journey.
After being as a basketballer for much of her junior sporting career, it was during the 2018 Koori Women’s football festival where Melbourne AFLW recruiters first noticed the potential of the young star, earning herself a place in the next stage of her football career.
“We identified Harmony at the beginning 2018 at the Korri Women’s football festival ran by AFL Victoria,” Melbourne Demons AFLW list manager Todd Patterson told Melbourne Media.
“Thanks to her participation at the festival, we were able to assist her in getting an opportunity to play with the Dandenong Stingrays.”
Playing for the Stingrays in the NABW Under-18s competition over the past two seasons, Thomas has caught the eye of onlookers with her abilities overhead as a marking forward and her forward pressure around the ball, showing remarkable potential as a footballer.
Her hard work and outstanding play during the 2019 season earned Harmony a debut with the Casey Demons squad for the team’s round 5 match-up against Collingwood, becoming the second indigenous woman to pull on the Casey jumper after Melbourne AFLW star Aliesha Newman.
“Harmony has shown great progress to get to the point of debuting for our VFLW team this past weekend,” Patterson said.
In her debut match, Harmony played in short spurts against some of the country’s best AFLW footballers, including Brianna Davey, Stephanie Chiocci and Chloe Malloy, often battling Collingwood key defender Ruby Schleicher in the Casey forward lines, more than holding her own against her more experienced opponent.
Even displaying the signs of her tremendous potential forcing her Collingwood opponent into an error and creating a contest leading to a Demons goal during the opening quarter.
With a loud cheer squad of friends and family members encouraging her on, Harmony quickly won the appreciation of the Casey faithful watching on during her debut match.
“We are extremely proud of Harmony and her progress as a footballer,” Patterson said.
“We believe this is a terrific example of the potential pathways for not only young indigenous women in the Casey region but for all women playing football in our region.”
Harmony is the first player to come through what Patterson and the entire Melbourne Football Club hopes is a more regular pathway for female players through the Club’s Next Generation Academy.
“As a club, we look forward to the day that AFLW clubs are given the opportunity to include female athletes officially in the NGA pathway program similar to the men,” Patterson said.
“However, we are committed to creating this pathway regardless.”
After her first game, Demons fans will be looking forward to seeing Harmony Thomas in the red and blue for many more rounds to come.