HOW I MAKE IT WORK...
FOLLOWING THE INAUGURAL AFLW SEASON, THE WESTERN BULLDOGS STAR REFLECTS ON HOW SHE MANAGES TO JUGGLE FOOTY AND CRICKET WITHOUT DROPPING THE BALL ON HER TEACHING CAREER
Emma Kearney on juggling two sporting careers.
Growing up, I was always the sporty girl at school. I played with the boys at recess and lunch – footy in the winter and cricket in summer. Being the only girl didn’t bother me so much, only that I had to wear a dress, which was more of an inconvenience than anything.
When I was 12 I had to stop playing football because there was no team for girls. I was absolutely shattered. I only picked it up again at age 20, when I was able to play for the Melbourne University team. When I first heard about the AFLW league I was so excited. I never really thought there would be a pathway for me to play professionally.
Looking back on the first AFLW season, it has been quite an amazing experience. It was on a totally different level to what I expected. The crowds were massive and it was so great to see so many young kids – not just girls, but boys as well – cheering us on.
Overall, the response has been really positive, but it frustrates me when people seem shocked that we can actually play. I hear a lot of people say, “Geez, you guys kick hard,” and I think it’s funny as we’ve been playing like this for years. It does show they’re taking an interest in the game, but people need to stop comparing the women’s game to the men’s game, because it’s completely different.
On a personal level, the footy season has been more challenging than I thought it would be. Working as a PE teacher at Mount Alexander College in Flemington and juggling that with footy has been tiring. I work Monday to Friday, train three nights a week and then have the game on the weekend. In June, when I start pre-season training with the Vicspirit in the Women’s National Cricket League, I’ll be training five times a week. The hardest thing is finding time to see friends and family – I don’t tend to relax unless I’m sleeping!
I do have to work to support myself. I’m lucky that my work and both sports are encouraging me, but I really hope there comes a time when I have to choose between the two because that will mean they’re paying us enough. It would be handy to be a male and be able to play one sport full-time.
To take women’s sport to the next level, there needs to be more funding at that grassroots level. We’re here to stay, that’s for sure.