Women’s Footy: VFL – Sarah Farmer

Sarah Farmer isn’t the only 17-year old playing in VFL Women’s. But she probably bears a larger responsibility than all of them.

 

The young Knox on-baller made her debut in Round 5 against Cranbourne. Since then, she has played beyond her years with her bold, smart style and is taking on a leader’s role. Not bad for a player whose football career began in May 2015.

 

Farmer, who is also the captain of Knox’s Youth Girls team, began her basketball career at the age of eight. She took her first footballing steps early in the 2015 season, saying that many of the zoning and structure aspects of basketball “definitely come into the game”.

 

Whatever skills she extrapolated from the court have certainly translated well onto the footy field, helped by Farmer’s pace, balance and attack on the ball. It wasn’t long before she was putting together dynamic, mature performances. And for that, she says she feels a great gratitude to her Youth Girls’ coach Tony Vippond.
“Tony’s done so much for me, he’s pretty much developed my game and fitness,” declares Farmer. It’s a respect that is very much mutual.
“Sarah’s a great overhead mark, given how tall she is,” says Vippond, who came to Knox with the talented on-baller after their time together at East Ringwood. “She’s a great leader. It’s not just her football talent, it’s her commitment, the way she leads from the front, the outside training.”

 

Six months after pulling on her first pair of footy boots, Sarah Farmer received her first representative selection for the Youth Girls’ Academy side Dandenong Stingrays.

 

“I was first placed on the rookie list,” she says. “I worked my way up in the pre-season and I got selected to play in the senior team.”
That Farmer was able to force her way into a representative team full of far more experienced players is testament to a rare and fierce determination. Her external training with Vippond includes regular gym work and tackling the 1000 Step Kokoda Memorial Walk at Mt Dandenong on a weekly basis.

 

Farmer’s VFL career at Knox was foretold well before her debut. During pre-season, senior coach Clint Martin saw a ready-made player with a long career ahead of her.

 

“She was always going to get a game as a senior,” says Martin. “She’s not seen as just a Youth player, she does the extra work. Every game that she’s played so far for us, she’s been in the top three.”

 

Knox were Division 1 runners-up in 2015 but fate has conspired against them in their maiden VFL Women’s season: a string of key player losses, injuries and subsequent massive defeats have left the bottom-placed Falcons needing to dig very deep to keep their heads up.

 

Farmer has been one of their bright lights. Her whirlwind start to her football career has reached perhaps its most extraordinary height in her performances at Knox: in just over a year, she has gone from footy fledgling to a highly important player in a team at the top of Victoria’s highest competition.

 

“In our [Round 8] game against Seaford I felt really confident,” she says. “That was probably my best game.”

Knox face a new challenge this Sunday: after long months of defeats, they come up against ninth-placed Geelong at their home ground of Schultz Reserve. Will they be able to handle a genuine chance of victory? What role is going to fall onto the young shoulders of Sarah Farmer?
“On ball… run and carry, get in the forward line, get back if I need to.”

 

In years to come, Sarah Farmer’s accelerated development in a struggling team may be seen as the beginning of one of the great VFL Women’s careers.

About Callum O'Connor

Here's to feelin' good all the time.

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