AFLW Round 1 – Western Bulldogs v Fremantle: Goal kicking with emotion

Sunday, 4 February 2018
4:35 pm (2:35 pm Osaka)
Whitten Oval, Melbourne


By Yoshi Imagawa


While Bulldog girls were playing for the first time in 2018, I had my first footy training in my life. Without storytelling of my footy training, I would not be able to write this unique match report.


Yoshi at the Osaka Dingoes training


It was also the first training for the mighty Dingoes in 2018. At four degrees with sunny and windy conditions, three Australians and four Japanese players turned up at Nambanomiyaato Park, the south east of central Osaka on Sunday afternoon.


While Aussies have been playing footy for decades, three other Japanese guys have rugby backgrounds, like some (many?) AFLW players have different backgrounds including hockey, basketball and netball.


As our player coach, Matt described after the training, I have a different background. Having a passion for the sport and writing about it brought me into footy, even I have less (nearly no) experience playing it.


The three other Japanese players had even less experience in footy. We started with running, and then bouncing, marking, tackling and kicking were on the program.


Bouncing was so hard because I had never had touched an the oval ball. I just need more experience.


I had a fear of being hit by a footy. On Friday, my eye sights got funny in the evening with contact lenses. Attempting to wear off after work, but I ended up scratching the left eye as I thought it still had the lenses. So I had to wear glasses at the training.


Marking was better. I took four or five marks. Matt told us where to mark – basically above the head level, but can be on your chest for comfort by hugging the ball.


Kicking was another hard part for me. Hitting the bottom of the footy with my left foot around the shoelace was totally new. And stretching the right leg high was hard.


Matt told me that players kicked the ball with emotion. But my emotions were not delivered into my right leg or foot properly. I need to gain physical communication skills.


At the end of the training, experienced Aussies were generous to me allowing me to take the ball. I am planning to do my own kicking practice but have to find a good place in Kyoto.



Daughters of the ‘Scray on the footy field


Sunny Melbourne seemed friendly for the home team, but the game started with tough contests and ball was moving back and forth.


Bulldogs had some opportunities to break the tight contests at their forward line, but Dockers had strong back line with intercept marking.


Eventually our skipper Katie Brennan took a mark inside 50 and snatched a goal. Holding a ball with making a W with both hands, she shot easily from the left side of forward pocket with her right foot.


I sensed her kicking with passion and enthusiasm of playing more games this year (she only played two matches due to the injury last year). And she would send non-verbal message with the goal, “I am the top Doggie girl!”


Brennan’s hunger continued. Her second goal was scored from close to the right boundary line. She ran and made two steps to shot (in the way Matt instructed at my training) with expressing her emotion wanting to contribute to the Bulldogs much more this year. Leigh Montagna commented that she kicked a goal beautifully.


Then ‘Scray girls had selfless play inside 50 and another star Bulldogs, Ellie Blackburn snatched a goal in the first quarter. With two behinds, Dogs led by 20 points at the first break.


It didn’t take long to have another Katie show on the goal square at the second quarter. Brennan ran and grabbed the footy in the goal pocket and kicked easily.


The Western Bulldogs dominated early in the second quarter, but slowed down in the late quarter. Tough contests were laid on the ground. But Fremantle were scoreless in the second quarter too.


Dockers started docking goal loads at the third quarter. O’Sullivan kicking the footy and Lavell took a mark inside 50. With a straight angle, a job has been done easily. It was their first score.


O’Sullivan made a long kick from 50 metres out, but it reached outside the goal line. Caulfield got the ball and played on. Ernst grabbed the footy defending but was tackled by a few Dockers. Fremantle were awarded with a free kick and Lavell scored her second goal for the day.


With 5:30 remaining on the clock, Sharp made a turn over just on the 50-metre line and kicked the ball. It moved towards the goal posts and seemed to touch. The goal umpire just raised an arm. But having been reviewed, it was a goal.


Like in Osaka, Whitten Oval witnessed their home team’s flags swinging so fast. Windy conditions helped the visitor scoring goals the Fox Footy commentators said.

At the last quarter, Toogood was handballed by the tackled teammate Huntington and snatched a goal easily inside 50. Her excitement of playing footy seemed to be included in her first AFLW game.


Her surname was the talking point on the television live coverage. She’s got a great one indeed and well done as a first game player (she is a former netballer and recorded 8 possessions on Sunday).


Toogood took a mark later and Bulldogs snarled. But bang! The 18-year-old Bannister hit the shoulder and head. Sadly she was stretchered off and “Daughters of the West” was sang by Scray girl supporters.


Then minutes later, Bulldogs were awarded a free kick and O’Connor kicked a beautiful goal from 45 metres out. Her thoughts towards her injured teammate to be ok.


It was a good game to watch the replay in the following two days. Chasing the ball was what I was impressed with.


Playing footy brings me more knowledge of the sport and it improves my writing too. Sunday afternoon was good for both the Dingoes and the Bulldogs. Let’s keep goodness for both of us! Once again we are sharing the same time to play and train next week.


Other footy news


Memorable AFLW was played in south east Asia on Saturday, 20 January. Thanks to great help by Hayley Leary from Malaysian Warriors Women’s team and Peter Kokke, I wrote an article for the World Footy News during the week. I hope you enjoy my match report.


Later at night, I happened to talk to Australian blokes back in Kyoto. We talked about AFL and my involvement in the Dingoes and footy writing. They were amazed by my writing in English. I need to think about the talk while kicking the footy to encourage myself to get the six points.


WESTERN BULLDOGS     3.2     5.4     5.6     7.7 (49)
FREMANTLE                         0.0     0.0    3.3     3.5 (23)


Western Bulldogs: Brennan 3, Blackburn, Lochland, Toogood, O’Connor
Fremantle: Lavell 2, Sharp


Western Bulldogs: Blackburn, Brennan, Kearney, Lochland, Lamb, Utri
Fremantle: Donnellan, Hooker, Lavell, Miller


3. Brennan (WBU); 2. Blackburn (WBU); 1. Lavell (FRE)


Umpires: Guy, Young, Burns

Official crowd: 8,500


About Yoshihiro Imagawa

Love, passion and pride are seen on the footy that is the biggest part of my life. 1. St Kilda Club member: I am a passionate and crazy Sainter. Just hope we will win the second flag soon, especially after Dogs and Tigers having ended long premiership draughts. 2. The Osaka Dingoes Player and Public Relations Officer: Player number 44 that I chose to honour Stephen Milne with my wish being like a small forward like him. Lenny Hayes' hardworking attitudes are adopted on my trainings and practices. Nick Riewoldt's great plays are in my player audiobook too. 3. Writing: Here on the Almanac and also on the World Footy News. My skills utilise on great footy websites.


  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Well done Yoshi for both this piece and your training

  2. Thanks Yvette :-)

  3. Phillip Dimitriadis says

    Brilliant Yoshi,
    I look forward to having a kick with you next time you are in Melbourne. Keep following your passions mate !

  4. Cheers Phil!

    It would be a great opportunity to kick footy with you on my next visit to Melbourne.

    On Wednesday, I was at a baseball ground near my home practising kicking on my own and when I was about to call it for a day, a bloke approached me. He asked me if it was Aussie Rules and I replied yes. We ended up kicking and marking. This Aussie guy was so great.

    Unfortunately the Type B flu hit me, so I will be sidelined for the next training at the weekend as well as my work until Sunday :-(



  5. Jennifer Muirden says

    Hi there Yoshi

    It was great to read about your first Osaka Dingoes training session for 2018 at Nambanomiyaato Park located in the south east of central Osaka. A quick google search suggests it would take you about an hour train ride from your home town of Kyoto to Osaka. That long journey and then training in freezing four degrees demonstrates your dedication to learning to play Aussie Rules footy and down the track run out on the field wearing the Osaka Dingoes uniform with pride.

    Your account of accidentally scratching your left eye such that you were forced to wear glasses at training reminded me of now retired talented New Zealander cricketer and currently BBL’s Brisbane Heat’s head coach, Daniel Vettori who throughout his playing career famously wore his spectacles on the pitch.

    I encourage you to read the following article!

    Regarding your difficulty with bouncing the oval ball I agree with you that at first it’s hard to get it to come back to you like a boomerang. Lots of practice will make perfect in this area! So too with kicking which hopefully you can work on more in Kyoto.

    Glad to hear the AFLW Bulldogs got up.


  6. Hi Jen,

    Thanks a lot for your comment and the article.

    I like train trips to Osaka that freshen me. Actually I walk for 20 minutes to the nearest station and need to transfer the train in Umeda/Osaka. Then the 45 minute trip between Kyoto and Osaka is a reading time.

    Some teammates are surprised that I live in Kyoto. But as you know my passions of playing footy don’t bother travelling every week!

    Sadly I have not got the club uniform yet…

    As for wearing glasses and contact lenses, the article you made the link is so interesting. He is just comfortable wearing glasses. I chose to wear contact lenses because I was feared of breaking glasses on the footy field. But I will purchase eye drops to avoid dry eyes and sliding contact lenses in my eyes.

    Thanks for your tips on bouncing and kicking. I had to be away from practising because of flu, but am excited to go back to the training tomorrow. And we are training in another city called Kobe tomorrow. It’s further from Osaka but it doesn’t stop me going there, lol.

    Enjoy watching your Blue girls and have a good weekend :-)



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