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Humble Gummo the sleeping Giant

As voted by her peers, Courtney Gum has won the AFLW Players’ Most Valuable Player Award, presented by Gloria Jean’s.

Before being drafted by the Giants, Gum spent a year with the Glenelg’s women’s team. She was coached by Narelle Smith, who shares her experiences with Gum and what makes the GWS midfielder tick in an exclusive column.  

Everyone that knew Courtney Gum, or had seen her play the game, knew that she belonged in the AFLW.

Overlooked in the inaugural AFLW draft, ‘Gummo,’ as most affectionately know her as, had a fire in her belly when she took to the field in Glenelg’s Round 1 clash with West Adelaide.

Around 26 disposals, at least half of which were contested, six marks and two goals later and the rest of the community were realising what we’d already known for ages — that Courtney Gum was destined for bigger things.

I first met Gummo when I was an assistant coach at Melbourne during the exhibition games in 2014. When she returned from New South Wales to South Australia in 2015 I was lucky enough to get her to play at Morphettville Park, where I was coaching at the time.

The first thing you’d notice about Courtney on the field is her natural abilities. She gets in the right spots and keeps her body upright during contested situations — that’s a rare feature in the women’s game at the moment.

Personality wise, she’s a bit quiet and reserved initially but all of a sudden she’ll showcase this massive ball of energy and display a drive that makes people stand up and take notice.

This sport means a lot to her but football is such a subjective game. What someone sees in a player, someone else might not see and this may have been why she missed out on the draft in 2016.

At the conclusion of the 2017 season Gummo grabbed her match vision and I knew that if AFL clubs saw that, she would certainly feature in the second season of AFLW. After the season she had, where she won the inaugural league best and fairest, it was only a matter of where she’d end up via the draft.

For Gummo, it was about her finding the right team.

The Giants needed that inside midfielder. She has that strong body, strong hands and unbelievable footy nous.

Clearly, she’s bought into the GWS program. It takes a lot to leave behind a family — her partner and young son — your business and uproot your life to play a semi-professional sport at the age of 36 but it seems to have not affected her.

Full credit to Krissie, her partner, for doing whatever it takes for Gummo to seize her opportunity.

Courtney epitomises humility, she’s as humble as they come and she wouldn’t listen even if everyone is telling her how much of a star she is.

Given the barriers she’s overcome to get to where she is, there’s no one more deserving of their place in the AFLW competition than Gummo.

It just, for one reason or another, took an extra year to wake this sleeping giant.