THE booming women’s footy landscape is competitive, at times cutthroat and unforgiving, and especially demanding on both body and mind.
But all those elements make the sacrifice that so many young females are making worth it, when they realise a dream they never thought possible.
Ally Bild made her VFLW debut on Saturday for the biggest sporting club in Australia, Collingwood, helping knock off ladder-leaders Hawthorn – all on her 19th birthday.
“If you were betting on the horses, it’s like winning the trifecta. It couldn’t get much better,” Bild told The AJN.
After being named an emergency in three of the first four enjoy the moment because this games of the season, the Mount Scopus graduate finally earned her first start in the black and white as the Magpies’ 23rd player, and she impressed.
“This is by far the biggest thrill of my footy career,” she said. “I knew that to be the best, I had to play and train with the best week in and week out.”
On debut Bild played alongside and against a handful of AFLW stars, including fellow teenager and teammate Chloe Molloy.
Pre-game nerves are part and parcel of sport at any level, but you wouldn’t blame the 164cm teenager if hers got the better of her – but they didn’t, thanks to a mature approach and some wise words.
“My coaches tell me that it’s important to have fun and isn’t something that is going to last forever.”
When Bild is not selected at VFLW level she runs around with Caulfield Grammarians in the VAFA competition, with former Jackettes teammate and Western Bulldogs VFLW player Toni Hamilton.
After making her debut in round two against Carlton, Hamilton missed the Bulldogs’ next match with a minor hamstring issue, but returned on the weekend to take on NT Thunder at TIO Stadium in Darwin.
With team selection more competitive with AFLW players returning, Hamilton was “surprised and ecstatic” to hear her name read out.
“I’ve never been to Darwin, nor have I ever competed interstate for football. It was an amazing experience, and it was great to bond with the other players and coaches,” Hamilton told The AJN.
But the Bulldogs were no match for the undefeated hosts. Hamilton, still learning her craft on the wing, had half a dozen disposals and laid three tackles.
“I struggled with the heat. It was a scorching 31 degrees and I was playing on the wing,” she said.
Post-game, one of the AFLW players who captained the team last weekend heaped praise on Hamilton for “contesting really well”, which was “a real positive” for the second-gamer.