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Anatomy of a debut — Jessy Keeffe

After being drafted with pick 48 in the 2017 AFLW draft, Brisbane’s Jessy Keeffe made her long-awaited debut last weekend. Keeffe took the opportunity to reflect on her debut game as Brisbane overcame the reigning premiers with a resounding 32-point victory.

I had an inkling that my debut game was coming.

The coaches had made some comments in our practice match against the Gold Coast Suns, telling me to ‘give it a crack’ because I might get my shot this weekend.

I thought I’d played pretty well in that practice game so I had an idea I might be in for a chance.

When I got the phone call to come into the Gabba, I didn’t want to set my mind on it definitely happening until I heard the words from the coach himself. It was very, very special.

My debut game was a long time coming but that moment was awesome.

I had no idea the Brisbane digital team were filming me. I’m pretty oblivious when it comes to that sort of stuff.

When my brother (GWS Giants player) Lachie called it was a really special moment.

He’s been in the league for a while so I’ve always been able to get feedback from him. He doesn’t express his emotions too much so it was pretty funny to see how excited he was.

The biggest piece of advice Lachie gave before my debut was just to take it all in and enjoy it because you only have your debut once.

While my focus was solely on the game, it’s pretty special being able to be out there for the first time so I was trying to take in as much as I could.

The lead-up to the game was quite frantic. I didn’t get the phone call from Starce that I’d be playing until about 20 hours before we had to fly out, and I manage a gym so I’m normally pretty busy with work. I’d been working that morning and that night after I got the call.

I was calling up our staff making sure they could cover for me and making sure everything was organised on such short notice.

I was really anxious and a bit all over the place on Thursday and Friday but once we got to Melbourne and were all set up in our room and ready to go to bed I could finally settle in and relax.

That time allowed me to properly get myself ready for what was going to happen.

The first two minutes of the game were seriously frenetic. I gave away a couple of free-kicks in less than two minutes and was feeling a little bit all over the place.

I remember getting a handball receive and passing it off and then as a team we were off and away so from that point I was settled and ready to go.

It helped me that the team had so much momentum so it was a bit easier for me to relax a bit and play my role.

When you consider the result, I couldn’t have asked for a better debut.

I had my whole family there which was incredibly special. A big moment for me was when I was running into the rooms at half-time and I could see my family in the stands throwing their hands around and cheering.

They were holding up a sign for me and I could see it as I was running out which was pretty special for me. I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face!

The feeling of the team was so strong. There was no doubt in our minds that we could finish the game off really strongly.

As I reflect on my first AFLW game, I look back to all those crappy little gym sessions that I didn’t feel like doing but I made sure that I did them because I wanted to make it so badly.

Now after one taste, I want to experience it again and again.