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Anatomy of a debut — Kiara Bowers

Having missed the first two AFLW seasons with a knee injury, Kiara Bowers made her long-awaited debut in Fremantle’s four-point win over Melbourne. 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 found out I was finally going to be making my AFLW debut on Thursday.

My line coach pulled me aside and told me I was playing. To be honest, I was pretty rapt.

I had a feeling that I was going to play, I had trained enough and thought I’d done enough to be able to make the team but to finally get the call up was pretty overwhelming. Those initial emotions were surreal.

For me, it had been so long and there was a part of me that felt it was never going to happen but I knew I had to back myself.

I had put the hard work in and knew that it would eventually come to fruition.

I’m a pretty relaxed person so I didn’t have too many nerves before the game. I like to be a bit more technical and focus on what I need to do but once the final siren sounded I was overcome with emotion.

I’d joked to my family and friends during the week that they couldn’t miss my game but I genuinely meant that they had to make the flight over to Melbourne.

Having them there and hearing them cheer louder than the rest of the crowd when I ran out onto the field meant the absolute world to me.

It was a great feeling running out onto the field and just getting the first touch of the ball and that first tackle where you realise that you’re still able to do it and your body is right to go.

After my first touch I didn’t think about anything else, I was just focused on playing footy.

It was great to get the four points in such a close win.

Once the game finished was when all the emotions hit me. I’m not normally a big crier but I definitely had a few too many tears come out on Sunday.

To finally reap the rewards of all the hard work I’ve put in was really special.

I’d be lying if I said I never thought about giving up football and going the easy route.

When you’re having a bad day it’s definitely something you think about but I’d always sit down, eat a bucket of ice-cream and get up the next day and get on with it.

I’m not the sort of person to sit on the couch for too long and worry about what’s happened.

If you do the hard work you can reap the rewards and I always knew that my time would come and when it eventually did, I would be ready for it.

I had to do everything I could to be able to come back and play football.

Although I felt like I was going to pull up and feel like I’d been hit by a brick, I actually felt OK.

I’m ready to tackle my recovery this week and get back into training to do it all again.