In black and white: Ebony is top pick
SPORT has dominated Ebony Antonio’s life.
When she was named a priority pick for the Fremantle Dockers in the inaugural Women’s AFL competition it was vindication for a lifetime love for the game.
Locally Antonio (24) is known as a basketball star with the Willetton Tigers, recently playing a key part in the side’s championship win.
The defender only got serious about basketball when she was no longer able to play AusKick at seven years old.
The Bull Creek/Leeming Junior Football Club could no longer accommodate girls in the sport so she made other plans.
“I’ve loved footy, I played a year at Bull Creek/Leeming, and then there were no more pathways and my involvement in basketball then took off,” Antonio said.
It was not all over. From time to time, she got among the ruck, subbing in for her twin brother’s team, coached by her dad – but never played a full game.
“Dad would always do the right thing and ask the opposition if I could play, but come half-time the coach would always say the girl has to go because I was showing up the boys,” she said.
Antonio’s rise up the basketball ranks led her to Bendigo, where she trained with the Spirit before coming back to Perth and playing for the Lynx.
But the love was gone. “I was in Bendigo for two years and I came back without the passion for basketball,” she said.
Taking up the black and white at the Swan Districts Football Club, Antonio threw herself into women’s footy– and her passion for the sport was reignited.
Her timing could not have been better.
“As soon as the AFL announced they were having a women’s team I jumped at it; it was something I’d wanted to do since I was little,” she said.
“I think I’ve done my time in basketball and I want to give football a hot crack.”
Playing all exhibition matches, some televised, Antonio’s debut as a signed player at on September 3 at Whitten Oval was a highlight.
“We felt like we had to prove ourselves at Whitten Oval,” she said.
“There were 6000 people there but it felt like 100,000 people, I’d never played in front of that many people, and now it’s starting to take off.
“That TV game peaked at one million viewers and we heard such positive feedback; I feel like we have gained a lot of respect because of the standard we played at during that match.”
In the meantime, the Freo pick is gearing up to welcome her new teammates, to be announced on October 12.
Ebony Antonio is priority pick for the Dockers.