By Nick Creely
When Zara Winterton draped a premiership medal over the neck of Richmond captain Trent Cotchin only moments after the 2017 AFL Grand Final, it capped off an extraordinary football season for the fanatical footy fan.
The eight-year-old from Berwick’s Auskick program has enjoyed a 2017 only some kids can dream of.
After her dad Paul entered a 25-second video of Zara explaining why she should be NAB AFL Auskicker of the Year, her first bit of fame came during an interview with TV personality Hamish McLachlan at half-time down at Geelong during the Cats’ clash with the Bulldogs on Channel 7.
“He asked me how I could tell my twin brothers apart and I said one has an oval face and one has a circle face – so he said back to me one has a football face, and one has a soccer face,” she said.
“I wasn’t really nervous (during the interview), it was fun.”
After becoming the Round 9 NAB Auskicker of the Week, Zara was then named the 2017 NAB AFL Auskicker of the Year by four judges who were all impressed by her passion and energy for the game.
Zara then got to enjoy a three night AFL Grand Final experience recently, as she explained with a smile.
“We stayed in the city for the three nights (over Grand Final weekend) with all the Auskickers, and the Adelaide team were there.
“We saw lots of players and I had a good time,” she said.
“I went on the ground at half time and played in front of the whole crowd – I also got to go around in the car at the start of the game next to Essendon’s Andrew McGrath (2017 AFL Rising Star).
“At the end I presented the medal (to Trent Cotchin) and he said well done to me and gave me a big hug – it felt good to do it and it was really exciting.”
Zara also won $5000 and has the honour of having one of the AFL’s most famous stars in her corner during Auskick next year, and explained how emotional it was for her.
“When I found out I won it I happy cried – I got to go to a photo-shoot with Joel Selwood (Geelong captain) and he’ll be my personal mentor next year,” she said.
“He’ll be teaching me things and taking me to a tour of Geelong, and I get to meet the team – he’ll also come out and watch Auskick.
“I’ve already spent half of it (the money), and I’m going to give the rest to charity and to my friend Jane because she has leukaemia – I got to get a new iPad and Katy Perry tickets too.”
The mad Essendon fan – who loves to watch David Zaharakis – has also appeared on popular AFL shows such as AFL360 and GameDay following her AFL Grand Final experience, and will be hoping it’s the Bombers’ turn next year.
But all Zara wants to do now is get stuck back into Auskick and “kick goals and make tackles”.