More than a decade ago, as a rough, 20-year-old basketballer who spent too many games getting fouled out, my captain suggested I give Australian Rules a go.
It’s a decision that would change my life forever.
I grew up in the rugby-dominated city of Cairns, so I hadn’t even properly watched a game of Aussie Rules before I started playing. I guess I went about things in the reverse order.
Basketball has many skills that can be transferred to footy – they’re both dynamic, fast-paced sports – which worked in my favour but it took a while learning to kick an oval-shaped ball!
I remember the exhilarating feeling of running up the ground, ball in-hand, from my first game.
There was also the camaraderie – taking the field with so many people with the same goal – and the challenge of the game that continually drew me back time and time again.
There’s no other game like it and it’s one that has had a huge impact on my life.
Footy influenced my decision to move to Western Australia for a period of time – the competition over there was stronger than the one in Queensland, and I met some of my closest friends over there as well.
My love for the game has only grown stronger with the introduction of AFLW.
The competition has forged a pathway for young girls in the sport, which really motivated me to continue playing, especially during a time where I questioned giving the game away after some severe injuries before the competition began.
I want to see an exciting, sustainable competition. I’m passionate about the future of our game.
It’s brought so much to my life and that influenced my decision to join the AFLPA Board.
It’s so important for players to have a balance between work, sport and life and, the AFLPA, with everything they provide, help the players be successful in all of those areas.
When I started playing for the Brisbane Lions, I was working and driving 12 hours per week on top of playing footy. While it was tiring, it was also worth it.
Those circumstances wouldn’t be unique to other AFLW players, so it’s important to continue working towards a sustainable future for players while ensuring that work-life balance doesn’t tip to one side.
I’m an environmental scientist so I understand the importance of education and that players have something outside of the sport and that’s where the AFLPA is also valuable. My educational opportunities have been invaluable in my development. Through my degree I was lucky enough to win a scholarship to study biodiversity in the largest area of untouched rainforest in Borneo and completed a six-month study exchange to Hawaii where I learned about renewable energy, fisheries management and surfed as much as I could.
I’m looking forward to helping negotiate another collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in a couple of years, which will align with the AFL’s broadcast rights deal.
I feel I have a lot of experience and a specific skillset to add to the Board.
I’ve played football in three states (Queensland, Western Australia and Victoria), I was part of the first ever AFLW draft, played in the initial women’s exhibition games before the competition came along, I was a formation player at the Lions and I am now an expansion player with the Suns.
My strength is offering a balanced view through my diverse experience in AFL, through education and in the broader workforce. I think that different perspective can help capture the views of players across the country.
It’ll be exciting to help drive the direction of the AFLPA for all players of our great game!