Getting to Know Natarsha Bamblett – An Interview With Richmond’s Newest Tiger

Much gets made of the AFL draft each year. It plays host to a different set of players, stories and boosted high hopes of each club. For my Tigers, it is the perfect tasting icing for the immaculately baked cake that was 2017. Whether it be the smart forward craft of Jack Higgins, or the hype surrounding father/son prospect Patrick Naish, it appears that Richmond have equipped themselves well to defend the title of Reigning Premier. Overshadowed by this somewhat has been one of the more exciting developments at the football club for the year, the signing of Richmond’s first VFLW  player for season 2018, 22 year old Natarsha Bamblett. Earlier this week, I was lucky enough to have the chance to get to know our newest Tiger as we talked football, life in community leadership and the upcoming season.

 

Bamblett comes to Richmond having been surrounded by football as a child, which has helped foster a love of the game. “Footy come about from my own curiosity” and wanting to “give it a crack like the boys and be seen as rough and tough as well,” she said. Her uncle Les Bamblett, the former Melbourne and Footscray forward is further evidence of a strong football heritage within her family. With this background and attitude toward the game, it is with little wonder that she was signed by the most ruthless club in the league. Prior to signing with the Tigers, she had partaken in a handful of junior games before falling pregnant, which ultimately led to a break from playing football. During her time away, other sports such as basketball and netball filled the void and have helped her preparation for a transition back to football, to some extent. These games have created ‘good game sense and ability to read the play’ for Bamblett, who sees herself as a natural defender on the field.

 

The 2017 campaign was a very successful one for Natarsha, winning the Northern Football League Division 2 Best and Fairest, Best in Finals for West Preston Lakes and finishing second in the club Best and Fairest. What makes these achievements all the more extraordinary is that it is the first time that she has completed a full season – but this was only the beginning for Bamblett. Following trials with Richmond, she went on to represent the championship winning Fitzroy Stars at the inaugural Koorie Women’s Football Carnival, where she was awarded Most Valuable Player for the tournament. Her feats at the tournament have instilled Natarsha with a sense of even greater pride as a member of the greater Indigenous community. “It’s a time where Indigenous people all over the state and from even further come together as a team and community to share culture and sport,” she said. “Sharing the game side by side with my sisters only builds our bond stronger and connects families together in a positive environment.” Richmond have not only found a decorated player, but an excellent role model for young women and the Indigenous community.

 

The mantle of role model is one that Bamblett is not shy of. Earlier this year she was awarded Miss NAIDOC 2017, a prestigious title that carries with it a high level of responsibility and pressure also. “I definitely feel some pressure I bring to myself of being a leader in the most respectful way, now realising how much of an impact I have to my community and wider”, she stated. By accepting the award, Natarsha believes that she has become a “leader for all generations” and “a portal for messages and voices to be heard by others in all aspects [of Government], from councils to Parliament House”. Furthermore, her work as a mentor with the Wirrpanda Foundation’s Deadly Sister Girls program has created a direct connection with young Indigenous girls, as they strive to find the balance between a focus on high achievements in education while connecting with culture. Leadership is not strictly limited to the Indigenous community for Bamblett though, as she works to create an impact by inspiring all people. ‘I want to set a good example for all and break down stigmas, only for more people to follow their dreams and goals’, she said.

 

When asked about making it to Richmond, Natarsha revealed just how emotional receiving the call was. “I cried for three days straight from the weekend and then went into shock and disbelief,” she said. Make no mistakes about her though, she is ready to attack season 2018. “Coming to reality, I feel on top of the world and as confident as ever,” she added. That is not to say that she has lost sight of the challenge that the step up to the VFLW will hold. Rather, Bamblett is looking forward to pushing herself to new limits and finding new capabilities in a professional environment, as well as playing against some of the biggest stars in the game. “I’m honoured to be able to share the game and field amongst and against the best and I’m going to take every training and game I get to learn new things from the Girls I play with and against. Challenges plus mistakes together equal learning,” she said. While making it to the AFLW competition as a member of Richmond’s inaugural side in 2020 is a long term goal, Natarsha is focused on the upcoming season – to “just take one step at a time.” This learning process will take place under inaugural AFLW season player and Richmond AFLW operations manager, Kate Sheahan, with whom Natarsha is eager to work. Speaking of Kate as a mentor, she said that, “having her presence at the club is going to be great for all that work with Kate. She is very honest and real.” Moreover, Bamblett sees the Richmond Football Club as a place where her development is best suited – “I know I’m at the best place with the best people.”

 

Concluding our chat, Natarsha gave me some insight into what we can expect from her as a member of the football club. I think this statement says it all –

 

“[I want to] to give my all into every challenge I come across. As a player I love some contact give and take, but all about success as a team and creating good links and relationships on and off the field. I’m looking forward to learning the tiger ways and traditions and having some fun and laughs along the way.”

 

If 2017 was not enough of a roller-coaster for us Tiger fans, then 2018 is shaping up to be just as exciting. With a host of new recruits and a VFL women’s team debuting next season, the club is well poised to achieve success both on and off field in coming years. Here’s hoping that Natarsha becomes an integral part of this, both as a player and a role model for a new generation of footballers.

 

 

For more on the Deadly Sister Girls program, visit the Wirrpanda Foundation site here: https://www.wf.org.au/programs/programs-education#deadlysistagirlzTiger

 

Presenting The Tigers’ Almanac 2017. Read all about it HERE.

About Liahm O'Brien

Burnie based Tasmanian Tiger that never made it past the title of ‘under 18s scrapper’ in the footy world – now telling the stories of those that could play the game.

Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says:

    Fabulous story. Thanks for sharing it.

  2. Thanks Yvette!

  3. Kasey Symons says:

    Great profile Liahm, really enjoyed learning more about Natarsha and you portrayed her story beautifully – loved that final quote!

  4. Thanks Kasey, it’s an exciting time for the game. Hopefully more great footy stories (in general) start to get told.

  5. Chris Rees says:

    Great story Liahm. So much Tiges positivity at the moment with all these developments, it must be just the best place to walk into. I loved Uncle Les at the Doggies too. Good luck Natarsha and welcome!

  6. Thanks Chris. You’re right, just when we think we’ve got all the answers for 2017, somebody goes ahead and changes the questions. What a year it has been!

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