Charlotte Baskaran will play footy with a newfound sense of freedom this season, having completed her debut campaign while completing Year 12 studies.

The 18-year-old was one of five students in Hawthorn’s team last season and is still currently the youngest player on the Hawks’ list.

With an intense pre-pre-season and a full 10-game season of AFLW under her belt, Baskaran was able to progress her game with three appearances with Box Hill’s VFLW team. 

The talented midfielder said she benefitted immensely from the experience, in which she averaged 14 disposals and three tackles. 

“It was definitely good to get down and train with the VFLW girls and play those three games,” Baskaran told the Soaring to New Heights podcast.

“It was good to just be able to get my hands on the footy, get my momentum back and focus on a couple of things that I knew I wanted to.

“It was just good to have a run around down there.”

With the shackles of Year 12 now released, Baskaran’s full focus is on further developing her skills during pre-season. 

The Western Jets premiership captain burst onto the scene last year, averaging 10.5 disposals and 5.1 tackles. 

In some ways, she was unlucky to miss out on a Rising Star nomination given not only her stats but her leadership and smarts around the ball. 

Now, Baskaran is lucky enough to be learning from one of the competition’s best midfielders in Emily Bates, whom she aspires to be like someday.

“All the new recruits have been really good and are settling in really well,” Baskaran said.

“It’s been good to have some new faces around and get them up and about.

“For me, I kind of look at Batesy as a bit of a role model.

“She’s been the best in the league.

“Her midfield craft and her ability to get the ball and work really hard is something I aspire to be like.

“Just seeing how she goes about it is really cool.”

Although Baskaran looks like a natural on the field, the lack of pathways in Aussie Rules meant that she was almost lost to athletics. 

But when a team finally popped up for her and her friends to join, the rest was history.

“When I was little, I did Auskick for three years,” Baskaran said.

“It was really fun and I loved it.

“But in my area where I was living, there weren’t really female teams and back then, I was a bit scared to join up with the boys.

“I did move into athletics and did that for about four years.

“I absolutely loved that and I think that’s really helped me progress into my footy career now.

“I enjoy running and hunting the ball.

“My friends from athletics decided to join a girls' footy team when we heard there was going to be a team so we thought we’d do that for a bit of fun.

“From there, I absolutely loved it from the moment I picked up a footy.

“I just kind of progressed through the pathway and was lucky enough to live out my dream and get drafted.”