AFLW – A Young Hopeful’s Perspective

By Bonita ‘Bonnie’ Norman

Just like many young aspiring kids across the country, my AFL journey began with me rushing home to have my Auskick forms signed for amazing merchandise and a bunch of lessons.

 

The value was tremendous including tickets to the Q-clash, backpack, football, drink bottle, stickers and player profile cards, not to mention all the lessons to boot. Much to my delight, my State School at Holland Park soon after, introduced AFL as an inter-school sport which I played for a couple of years which culminated in me receiving an AFL medal at year 6 Graduation 2016.

 

With my new found interest and thoroughly enjoying playing in my school team… I sought out playing with a local club at the Mt Gravatt Vultures. My sign on and first year of registration not only saw me playing with the first ever U/11 all girls age group but being absorbed in the “ girls play too “ campaign / promotion bringing awareness and greater appreciation for female participation in the AFL code.

 

The inaugural U/11 girls teams had a North and Southside division, this was a fantastic introduction to the rules and how the game is played.

 

Each and every game was very exciting, meeting new players and forming new friendships, there is a wonderful community feel about the games as friends and family all chipped in to help out volunteering in a variety of roles, before, during and after the games. Dad still very much enjoys being a boundary umpire and running water out to us during the games. Mum is a vocal contingent of our cheer squad and helps out with a bowl of fresh fruit for half time.

 

Being involved with an AFL club opened up a number of money can’t buy experiences and fantastic opportunities. Our female participation coordinator also Queensland Youth coach of the year, Kate Guy arranged and organised for us girls to be actively involved with a run on the Gabba ground at half time during the local Q-clash in full Lions and Suns uniforms the night after our very first game. This was a great thrill and the girls still mention it from time to time, the photos are a memorable and cherished keepsake. During the year there were several other clinics namely a celebration called Q150 which commemorated 150 years of AFL in Queensland and was held at the City Botanical Gardens where the first AFL QLD games were played. The history of the game was fascinating and I had the opportunity to have a photo with the three Lions Premiership trophies and take part in a number of Auskick drills and skills. The roving team mascots were very entertaining and had us laughing at some of their funny antics.

 

The “Girls play too” promotion was incredible throughout the year and the buzz throughout the club and the girls teams had us knowing something special was in the midst. I was fortunate enough to be able to attend another clinic at the Gabba itself… home of the Brisbane Lions… yet another fantastic clinic run by Auskick where I first met Emma Zielke and Taylor Harris early ambassadors of the Brisbane Lions Women’s team. The afternoon was filled with fun and productive activities with many of the Brisbane Lions players and coaches. One of the highlights for me not only having some photos with my favourite players but also running out onto the field under the giant inflatable lion.

 

My first year at club level was filled with many special and memorable moments that I will cherish forever. Being so involved in the game that I love playing and the experiences gained is next to none.

 

The next footy season couldn’t come around quickly enough, time to hit the park and refine some drills and skills learned from last season. With a few sessions of pre-season training and the Sherrin getting its bounce back, things were already shaping up as something special.

 

The arrival of the WAFL was here, and with a Brisbane Lions flag I had bought at a local fete coincidentally the same day I had later won a signed Lions jersey, marched down to Coorparoo waving that very flag to watch a trial match between the Lions women’s team and GWS Giants. Standing aside the Lions women’s bench, friends and family stood in the elements as an early storm had passed… rain, sleet or hail … here were the lions women on display looking fit and athletic and I was immediately hooked.

 

What a fantastic introduction to the women’s team this was for me as after the game the women were happy to have photos taken and chat about the game, they were all so friendly and down to earth… I stood among my new found heroes.

 

Not long after this trial match I had my flag signed by the entire Lions Women’s team at a family fun day at the same Coorparoo ground as the trial match. Here again all the women were happy to chat and have a bit of a kick, there were plenty of Chemist warehouse balls flying around and maybe even one or two that had the stuffing kicked out of them.

 

The WAFL season was soon to get underway and I took my flag to all three home games against Collingwood, GWS Giants and Bulldogs at the SouthPine Complex Brendale. Each visit to the ground had me feeling more and more involved and a part of this amazing foundation year. First visit I collected my Foundation members scarf, the next visit I won a backpack with a handball competition, I convinced dad I needed a new hat when I ‘accidentally’ forgot one. After my last visit to the ground I was in my new Lions Women’s jersey and waving my flag so high and ever so proudly. Much to my sheer delight I was fortunate enough to be recently involved in yet another Auskick clinic at the Yeronga football club, the skills and drills we experienced directly with the Lions Women were amazing, here I was again, standing among such a wonderful bunch of encouraging women from all walks of life giving their time and attention back to the game and players like me with achievable dreams of being where they are one day at this level of the game I love.

 

Once we were aware that the Lions women had locked in the opportunity to host a home Grand Final, any and all other plans were immediately cancelled. Making the trek down the M1 aboard the Hyundai ‘fan bus’ from Coorparoo to the Metricon stadium was nothing short of thrilling.

 

Dad and I secured amazing seats right beside the friends and family section where we had our flag and banner ready to wave in support as we cheered on the mighty Lions before, during and after the game.

 

The atmosphere was incredible and Megan Washington sung her pre-match songs beautifully. The “ big dance “ had lived up to all predictions of being a super tight contest and highly possible to go either way. There was nothing much separating these two champion teams in the end result but so much more gained from the overall season leading up to this grand spectacle and the recognition and respect for the sport achieved.

 

I believe any team making it to a Grand Final, in fact all teams that contributed to a magnificent inaugural year should stand tall and proud… take a bow ladies as this year has been so memorable and one I will never forget. The women’s AFL season that we at the club had spoken of so often and looked forward to attending and being involved with, was and is, everything and more, surpassing all expectations. As a junior player I know that myself and many other young girls can now aspire for greater things, to play in such a well received and highly appreciated competition. I can’t thank enough all the associations, clubs and individuals, families and friends involved with Junior AFL over the past couple of years and the dedication and devotion so many contribute to our beloved game of AFL.

 

 

Comments

  1. Mark 'Swish' Schwerdt says:

    Hi Bonnie, I really enjoyed reading about your footy lifetime thus far, you write beautifully. Please make sure you keep us up to date with your progress.

  2. Thank you very much, the inaugural AFLW season has been incredible… such a wonderful experience to be a part of.
    My regular afl season has only just started so plenty of footy ahead.

  3. Chris Norman says:

    Wonderful piece Bon … it has been a total joy to ride alongside this journey with you …
    I know how much you love your AFL and I hope you continue to cherish these experiences and moments that make it all very special. Giving high fives and waving our flag at the womens Lions games was certainly a highlight and these memories will last a lifetime.
    Love,
    Dad

    P.S you should try to find the sonnet you wrote about AFL at the start of last season.

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