New Comers Add to Spirit
There will be lots of grand final experience from last season playing for the Swans this weekend, but there will also be plenty of first season players lining up in the huge Grand Final game against Tweed Tigers.
Season 2017 was the inaugural year of the women’s competition, with the Swans taking out the premiership in an intense Grand Final that was played with plenty of spirit and fight.
As they prepare for the same big stage this weekend, with their eyes firmly on attempting back to back premierships, season 2018 has a great blend of experience, and new comers to the squad.
Many of the Swans playing list started their Australian Rules careers virtually last season, making them experienced players in this competition at the back end of 2018.
However, this season has witnessed more new comers to our game with the Swans registering up to 16 new comers this season, with eight of them making the squad consistently all year and should be selected for this weekend’s Grand Final.
With women’s Aussie Rules really taking off nationally in the last few years, joining the sport can be daunting for some, especially if they have never seen it before, so learning the game is challenging enough, let alone developing in to a capable player.
Newcomer Rebecca Brooks who has had a blistering first season and has not only seen her learn the game, but she is a huge chance for the Best & Fairest award and she has appreciated the game of Australian Rules from the first moment she wore the Swans guernsey.
“I love it, and I was really surprised at how much running is involved but I've also enjoyed being able to play a contact sport” said Brooks.
“It might sound minor, but for women, contact sports are hard to come by, so I've really appreciated this aspect of the game”.
Asked about how she feels to play for Lismore, Brooks knew it was all about the team culture.
“I Love my team and our coach always says "we're family", and I have really felt that sense of belonging at the Swans since my first training everyone was so positive and willing to help teach me”.
Other new comers this season also felt the Australian Rules bug instantly, and the opportunity meant the world to them, such as consistent and popular performer Molly Hughes.
“My pop has been a massive Sydney Swans fan all his life and for him to see me play for the Lismore Swans put a smile on his face instantly” said Hughes.
“I feel privileged to be a Swannie and my skills have definitely improved, and coming from a water polo and netball background I have acquired many skills”.
Hughes explains what main aspect of Aussie Rules has helped her the most.
“I didn’t realise till playing how important endurance was and by playing I have definitely improved on this”.
However not all new comers are brand new fans to our game, with some players loving the code all their lives, and snapping at the opportunity to join the Swans now that a competition is available.
An example of this is Sarah Jones who has loved Aussie Rules since she was born, and has learnt her craft throughout the year and improved with every game.
“My Great Grandfather who we lived with played for Collingwood & Victoria in the 1920’s, and my Dad and I have been going to games as long as I can remember” said Jones proudly.
“Having never played footy before my skills have obviously increased since pre-season and every week there is a new challenge”.
“I am thankful that I have been able to bounce a footy since I was a kid, as being an adult I think it’s a tricky skill to master”.
Another Victorian who ventured north up the Hume and now a local resident is Maggie Riley, who has loved the game her whole life, but had never played it.
“Being Melbournian and following the game since I was born and playing this year has giving me a greater appreciation for the game, and I absolutely love it” Riley said.
“Swans have been very welcoming and positive to all abilities which makes learning a new code encouraging”.
For some, such as Rebecca, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing.
“To be honest I often found training a challenge after you finish a long day at work, particularly in winter it's hard to be motivated to go. But training has also been some of my best times with the team, and the reason I've improved” she said.
For all the season’s learnings, and for all the challenges the new comers to the Swans have faced, this weekend will provide the biggest test yet, as they step out to try win the Grand Final against the Tweed Tigers.
“I'm so excited, and nervous as so much hard work went into this season by all the girls so it’s exciting to finish in a grand final, but I'm nervous as” Brooks confirms.
Molly also shares her excitement for the Grand Final.
“I’m very excited for the GF and so happy to be in it with the best bunch of ladies and hope that we can come away with another victory and bring it home”.
For Sarah the nervousness hasn’t hit yet, but the belief was always there for a Grand Final opportunity.
“I had hoped since deciding to play AFL that we would make the GF, however I’m not nervous yet, but I’m sure I won’t sleep Friday night” Jones said.
For Maggie the season has had some injury challenges, but she has been resilient in recovering and playing the in the Grand Final.
“I’m proud to be part of any Grand Final as people play sport and never experience making a grand final, so I see it as an honour”.
“Managing an ankle injury throughout the year is mentally challenging but knowing that the season was made by a bigger playing group than just those players playing on Saturday, makes you want to win for the team; I’m proud regardless of the result” Maggie said.
The Swans will go in to the Grand Final with plenty of experience from last year, but rest assure the determination shown throughout the year by the first-year players has been extraordinary and has pushed the entire squad forward with renewed vigour and focus.
The Swans will play the Tweed Tigers at the Cavanbah Centre, Byron Bay at 12.35pm Saturday September 15.
Good luck Swannies.