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Anatomy of a debut — Danielle Ponter

Hailing from the Northern Territory, Adelaide’s Danielle Ponter comes from a family with significant ties to Australian Rules football. After being taken with pick 48 in last year’s draft, Ponter debuted in the Crows come-from-behind victory over Carlton on the weekend. Ready to make her mark in the AFLW competition, Bowers took the opportunity to reflect on her debut game and the stirring emotions that came with the victory.

I received a phone called from our coach Matthew ‘Doc’ Clarke on the Wednesday leading into the game.

He’d called to tell me that I was in the mix to make my AFLW debut in Round 2.

I flew down to Adelaide from Darwin for our main Thursday training session.

In our team meeting before training Doc announced that I was in the squad. All the girls got around me and congratulated me but then it was time to get into training.

I knew that I had been putting in the hard yards and that I had trained enough to give myself the best opportunity to play but there was definitely still a level of shock and excitement.

It was overwhelming knowing that I was going to be debuting. When I told my family they were so excited for me which was something I won’t forget.

When we all flew over to Melbourne as a team a couple of the girls came up to me and asked if I was nervous and how I was feeling.

At the time I was fine but then on game day just before we were getting on the team bus the nerves started to sink in and I thought ‘This is actually happening and I’m playing my first AFLW game!’

Walking out of the change room into the race, seeing the banner there and running through with the whole team was an amazing feeling. It was a surreal moment.

I fumbled my first touch, which is when I realised just how nervous I was.

It hit me then that I actually needed to step up to the AFLW level and the play the football that I know I can play.

After that moment I settled a bit.

When the siren sounded I was so excited we’d won but then realised that meant we had to sing the song and I didn’t really know it because I hadn’t been practising!

I stood in the middle of the circle, with all the girls around us, but tried to hide from the camera so they didn’t realise I wasn’t singing.

It was such an incredible feeling to stand in the circle and be part of that moment. I had no idea about the Gatorade shower so I was freaking out a little bit.

Sharing that win with my family that were there was really good.

I was more emotional than they were and overwhelmed with excitement at seeing how happy they were for me.

They’re very supportive even if they didn’t show their emotions too much. I know that they’re very proud of me but we tend to keep our emotions hidden.

My uncle Michael Long sent through a message before the game telling me to play my own game and give it my all.

My cousin Ben Long called and had a chat to me because he’s experienced that moment with St Kilda.

Having them come to watch and show their support meant a lot.