In black and white: Ebony is top pick

Cockburn Gazette - - SPORT -

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.

Pic­ture: Marie Nirme d459984

Ebony An­to­nio is pri­or­ity pick for the Dock­ers.

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