As a 17-year-old girl, passionate about AFL, I always knew I’d have to move from Cairns and leave my family in order to pursue my career.

In making this decision I knew it was always going to be hard.

I have always been a girl who loves hanging around with friends and knowing I’d have to move to a place where I didn’t have many friends was always going to be a tough obstacle to overcome. 

Moving from Brisbane to Melbourne was challenging, yet extremely rewarding. 

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Having only lived in Melbourne when I was much younger, it definitely opened my eyes to how much more there is out there. 

Coming into the “footy capital” of Australia assisted myself immensely with settling in, the club and the people around me were exceptionally welcoming. 

Playing for North Melbourne is a dream come true. Going from Auskick at the age of 6 through Juniors and Seniors to make it to an AFLW list was unbelievable and no words could describe this feeling.

Leaving Brisbane behind me was difficult, I had made some great friends, however most of my family are from Melbourne which eased the situation. 

The first few months in Melbourne were a little hard. I wasn’t living close to the city, and didn’t know my whereabouts very well. 

However I quickly started to adapt to the fast pace life that Melbourne offers, I’ve met a group of girls which I consider friends for life and wouldn’t trade it for the world. 

As for my biggest support my mind jumps straight to my parents and best friend. 

Dad has always been my go to, has always reassured me and made me work harder to be where I am now.

I wouldn’t be here without my Mum, I think back to when I first started getting into footy, her support was incredible, I couldn’t count the amount of times we were driving late nights and early mornings just for me to participate in the sport.

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As for my best friend, her making the move to Melbourne with me and her continuous care to my career has shown and having her there at my games when my parents are in Cairns is one of the greatest feelings.

Without those three people I don’t think I would be where I am today. 

Throughout every athletes career there’s always one set back and unfortunately mine was an ACL. 

Playing in Cairns for North Cairns Tigers. I was in Year 12 and organising to head to Brisbane for work and footy. It was going to be my last game in Cairns and we were in the semi-finals. 

As anyone would I wanted to play well and help the team make the grand final. It was the third quarter, running after a running ball I pivoted and my knee cap kept going the opposite way.

I was devastated, I had my Year 12 Formal coming up, a ski trip to New Zealand and I was selected to play for Queensland in the Under 19 School Girls Hockey Team also playing in New Zealand.

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I couldn’t think of anything worse to happen to myself. I put off having surgery till after my formal and my ski trip as I could bare to not go to either but I did have to pull out of my hockey team. 

The support I had from everyone was huge there we down days but I always had my friends and family right there to pick me back up and make in 100x easier to handle.

All I wanted to do was get back out on the footy field. I had my operation in December and I was moving to Brisbane mid January.

Brisbane Lions were a massive help during my rehabilitation stage. I was seeing the Physio two days a week at training and other days in the clinic trying to push through the rehab as fast as I could.

After having so many setbacks during my rehab process the date to my first game back couldn’t come sooner.

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Syd Barker ✨

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I was hoping to play my first game back in Brisbane but then I had made the move to Melbourne so plans had changed and I was back into rehab in Melbourne as I couldn’t do anything during the move which put me weeks behind, I knew I had so much training to come to prove I was ready. 

Round 2 AFLW game and I was named in the team, this was an indescribable feeling my emotions where everywhere. I finally had my first game back and it was a dream come true.