Aisha adds to the Thomas football dynasty

Aisha Thomas, winner of the BLGW Best and Fairest award, - playing for Central Zone in the Think! Road Safety Country Championships in July.

By Peter Argent

The football genes certainly continue to flow for the Thomas family, with Aisha Thomas recently adding the Barossa Light Gawler Women’s best and fairest to an impressive list of accolades.

Playing-coach for the South Gawler Lions, Aisha won the award – now aptly named the Central District Football Club BLGW trophy – with 18 votes, two ahead of 15-year-old sensation Holly Tralaggan from the Light Football Club (an amalgamation of Light District clubs Freeling and Kapunda). Former state U18 representative Madison Lane (Barossa District) claimed third position.

The Lions team collected four wins and a draw across 13 minor round games in season 2022 after reforming their senior women’s team in the pre-season. Naturally, Aisha was also selected in the BLGW Team of the Year on the interchange bench.

Aisha was also a captain of the undefeated Central Zone Women’s side at the Think! Road Safety SA Country Championships in Whyalla in July, playing alongside her young sister, 18-year-old Abbie. The Thomas girls also claimed the top two spots in the Lions club best and fairest count.

The development of the women’s game has been outstanding in the BLG. What started as a nine-a-side game six short years ago has now developed into a thriving and vibrant competition with talented players across all six senior teams.

“We beat last year’s premiers Gawler Central in round one which was amazing,” said 19-year-old Thomas.

“Before the season started, we only had a couple of players and we cobbled together a team after a ‘come and try’ day in the pre-season.”

Winning awards and playing Australian football is certainly a family affair for the Thomas clan.

Proud dad Jamie had a 159-game career with Central District after coming to the club during the 1981 season following a string of impressive performances for the SAAFL Under 18s.

He started his coaching with Coolaman in the Riverina League 1990 before moving to the Willaston Donnybrooks from 1991 to 1993 and then to Loxton North for the ’94 and ’95 campaigns. Thomas captained the Waratahs in the Northern Territory Football League for four seasons and coached St Mary’s to the 1996-97 NTFL flag.

Paul Thomas, current senior coach of the Bulldogs, is among Central District’s most decorated players.

Along with six premierships as a player (2003, 2004, 2007-10), he was a Magarey Medallist in 2004, two-time club champion (2004 & 2009) and captain of the club from 2007 from 2015.

He won the Bob Quinn Medal as best-on-ground on ANZAC day on four occasions and was a consistent member of the South Australian state team.

“Dad has been very important in my football life, he’s been a tremendous support and the confidence he had in my ability was a major factor in winning my accolades.

“My older brother Paul and I are very close, and he is a wonderful resource and role model from a football perspective.”


Paul Thomas, now senior coach at Central District, in his playing days.

Along with natural leadership qualities, Aisha Thomas’ strengths as a footballer include a strong work rate and elite ball skills.

An on-baller both in the BLG and at the SA Country Championships, Aisha Thomas debuted for Central District Women’s team in 2019 as a 16-year-old.

“I reckon that gives me bragging rights,” she laughs.

“Being involved as a coach this year has helped my confidence. Dad would say ‘eat, live and breathe football’ and I felt I did that this year. Ultimately, I want to play AFLW one day and I’m keen to hopefully have a big 2023 SANFLW campaign with Centrals.”

Jamie Thomas says he only had the opportunity to watch about “30-odd” of Paul’s games across his career, so he now endeavours to get to his younger children’s games rather than coaching.

“I’m proud of all my children and want to support them. My oldest child, Kelly, has been a wonderful mentor as well and Paul’s record speaks for itself. Aisha, Abbie and Beau are all working on their playing careers currently,” Jamie said.

Teenaged brother Beau Thomas, a strong marking left-footed key position player, was leading the Rookie of the Year award in the BLG at the halfway point of the season, before moving to the Ponderosa.

He finished fourth in the Gawler Central best and fairest award despite playing eight U18 Torrens University Cup games and one reserves match in the second half of the SANFL season.

Aisha with parents Jamie and Karen after winning the Central District Football Club BLGW trophy.

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