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

Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Contents - as told to Stephanie Squadrito

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.

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