Port Adelaide recruit Olivia Levicki (Picture: PAFCW, Design by Will Cuckson)

No-one expected Port Adelaide’s Olivia Levicki to play at AFLW this season, least of all herself. Playing basketball at the top level in Australia, the former WNBL star came to the league after being scouted by of an idol of hers, Erin Phillips.

Being a very natural athlete, former basketballer Olivia Levicki has now done what many other AFLW footballers have done, crossing to the league for a different opportunity.

Enjoying a decorated career, she played 200 WNBL games for the Townsville Fire, Melbourne Boomers and the Perth Lynx. Some career highlights also include being selected in Opals squads and representing Australia as a junior player.

Amazingly for Levicki, her first game of professional football was Port Adelaide’s debut in the AFLW alongside Phillips. She spoke exclusively to The Inner Sanctum about her cross-coding journey and how she found the game she now loves despite never playing the sport.

“So for me when I was growing up, when I was really young obviously like most sporty kids, I played a bit of netball and basketball mainly but for me, I decided to stick with basketball,” Levicki explained.

“When I was 17-years-old, I went to the AIS (Australian Institute of Sport) for two and a half years so that really started my journey when I was there in Canberra and then played nine seasons in the WNBL where I played in Australia.

“[I played] nine seasons before I stopped playing five years ago then I was just playing here at NBL1 competition here in Adelaide, then in 2022 during the season, I got asked to play football so here I am.”

Her first ever football pre-season was used to catch up on the football knowledge and skills as quickly as she could with her fitness base established from basketball already. Levicki describes how she managed her pre-season while doing as much as she could to get a spot in Port Adelaide’s first team come Round One.

“The whole pre-season [was about] 14 weeks or so all up but it was a pretty quick pre-season. I had to really put my foot down and try and go as well as I could to try and get a gig playing in a short amount of time and especially for someone like myself, I think I’m the only one that’s never played footy at all,” she said.

“I’ve learnt a lot over the weeks [and] I’m continuing to learn each week and improve my game. The bigger thing is having such support around the coaches and you know people like Erin and all the leaders within the group.

“I think I’ve learned a lot out of each game and I think when you are out there playing you actually are learning more so I’m lucky and fortunate to be playing and getting that growth. The [most difficult part] was the physicality of it is a lot higher [in AFLW] but I can definitely use some of my athleticism and I’m pretty tall so I’ll use what I can in this sport and then the rest is growth for me.”

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Levicki then discusses the thought behind the switch, revealing it was the added challenge of the unknown as well as the opportunity to bring something different to her day-to-day life that lead her to Port Adelaide.

“I’ve never played football so it was a bit of a funny story, I think people would find it interesting because I’m sort of different in that regard,” Levicki said.

“I’ve really enjoyed the football journey because to me having played basketball my whole life growing up, it’s completely different and I’m actually really enjoying it. I work during the day on the side and I am going to footy at night like it’s quite refreshing, it’s a change in my life and I’m enjoying it so that’s the main thing.”

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In her third game of AFLW football, Levicki kicked her first ever goal in Port Adelaide’s draw over Carlton, the milestone was very special to her with her captain in Phillips giving her the goal assist.

“That feeling of kicking your first goal it was just, I can’t even explain it, I was just so happy and excited and I think you could tell by some of the footage and the pictures,” she explained.

“It was pretty cool that Erin dished it to me as well, it was a good feeling and I love the feeling of it all with the girls and everyone is so supportive and they get around you.

“I love that about the footy side of things, I’ve certainly noticed that, there is a lot of support, it was so exciting to kick my first goal and hopefully there will be some more.”

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