For what I would give to be 16 again.

As a full-time PE teacher at the Lady of Mercy College in Parramatta, at 32, I look at the opportunities young female athletes have right now and can’t help but imagine how different life would be if I was coming through the AFLW ranks today as a teenager.

Oh how different my 20s would have turned out.

It is amazing playing for the Greater Western Sydney Giants, but I know time is not on my side, thus my envy for all the young girls coming through the system today.

I’m thankful that as much as I enjoy playing AFLW football, my love for teaching far outweighs everything else in life.

Obviously for financial reasons, just like all other everyday Australians, I have to work full-time; but I love what I do.

The best part about my job is I have so many young female students who just think it’s incredibly cool that I live this double life.

Amanda Farrugia - exclusive insight

From 8am-3pm I am Ms. Farrugia, and after school hours I am no. 18 for the GWS Giants national women’s team.

Even I sometimes have a chuckle about it.

The favourable work hours from teaching also makes managing the two commitments easier, while the Giants are really understanding of my school requirements as well.

They know that my full-time priority is my students, and at times footy has to come second – albeit a very close second for me!

I’ve always set out to commit equally in terms of my energy towards both pursuits, as I’ve often tried to live my life with a similar mantra – all or nothing, and only 100% is ever good enough.

There are days when I’m just super tired, and want nothing more than to lay on the couch in front of the TV, but when you love teaching and footy as much as I you find a way to overcome fatigue and push through.

So many things often pick me up when the going gets tough, but recently whenever I’ve really battled with motivation, I think of the 8-10 female students from my school who have recently signed up to play in the local leagues.

You couldn’t wipe the smile from my face when they all told me.

It was one of those special moments I’ll have with me for a very long time.

I’m excited for them that they’ve found a sport they really love, and I’m also excited for those girls because they’re now the girls who are showing that it is okay to involve yourself in a sport that is traditionally male-dominated.

They’re pretty gutsy girls – to have the courage to challenge such stereotypes at their age is no small feat.

So as much as I can, I’m always checking in on how their doing; whether it’s a quick hello in the playground during the week or even asking them first thing Monday how their footy games went over the weekend.

Unfortunately, sometimes some of those girls rock up to school at the start of the week hobbling around on crutches or sporting serious strapping!

But they’re so resilient and they even remind me why such injuries are only setbacks and part-and-parcel of playing AFLW, so it’s great to see them stick it out.

And I can’t even really take all that much credit – the same group of girls absolutely loved footy well before my involvement with the Giants, although I certainly think having someone they know is part of the system has only aided in their love for the sport.

From my perspective, as much as I want to see all our female students take up footy, as a PE teacher I’m not really fussed on what they choose to play – I just love seeing them leading active & healthy lives!

Amanda Farrugia - exclusive insight

I was really lucky in the sense my parents never said to me that I can’t play sport (good luck had they tried!).

So that was obviously a key reason why I pursued and feel in love with the game of AFL football.

But for some of these female students, their parents very much dictate what they should be doing with their free time, and while I understand that to an extent, at the same time it’s the parents that need to be a little more accepting with how far we have come from shying away from only playing “girls sports” and “boys sports”.

The challenge for us girls is to really break down these cultural stereotypes – for a lot of girls at our school, playing a contact sport is still very much taboo.

That’s something that is increasingly hard to challenge – but when they see someone in myself who is from the same cultural background as them, playing a professional sport like AFL while maintaining full-time employment, it opens their eyes to a whole new world.

It shows to them that they can juggle all these things, and you don’t necessarily have to be invested in just one facet of life.

To me, that’s the responsibility I have in life right now – to help break down these ridiculous barriers and taboo.

I want to promote the message of healthy living through sport, and the passion it can ignite a new side to them they didn’t know existed.

Amanda Farrugia

Amanda Farrugia is the captain for Greater Western Sydney in the national AFLW competition.

A high-school PE teacher by day, and an elite athlete by night & weekends, Amanda is an outstanding community role model for young girls everywhere.

She is one of the game's marquee players.