GEORGIE PARKER –
I remember five years during an open media session with the Hockeyroos, being asked by a reporter what my favourite sport was as a kid.
Understandably, those in the rooms quickly assumed hockey would be the obvious answer.
So you could imagine their surprise when I made it known my first sporting love had actually been AFL football.
My entire life it has been my passion – I remember being a little girl and dragging my parents to the footy clinics at the school.
I also remember being the only little girl at the footy clinics.
All I wanted to do at that age was play just like my favourite footy player Shaun Rehn from the Adelaide Crows (the most random player I know!).
I was just obsessed with the Crows, and loved them so much.
But of course, at that time, there was no junior female pathways for me to follow, so hockey became my destiny.
If female football had been around when I was a kid, I would never have picked up a hockey stick.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m glad hockey found me, as I have enjoyed tremendous success as a professional athlete, and will be forever grateful for what hockey has given to me.
But it wouldn’t have been a hard decision at all – I just loved footy that much.
At age 28 now, it’s nice to now get that opportunity to live our my childhood dream with Collingwood in the AFLW League.
It is such an exciting opportunity, and it’s not even just for me now.
Mark my words, this is not a publicity stunt or a novelty. My heart is set on playing this game.
If it was a publicity stunt, I wouldn’t care as much, but I can’t wait to give the AFLW a red hot crack.
Many people have actually asked me, at 28 years old, why now? They’re suggestion is surely I still have enough years left in my legs to keep at hockey.
And they’re not wrong – I could easily have played hockey for another four years.
But I guess when it comes down to it, I didn’t really want to.
I wanted a new challenge, and when the opportunity to join Collingwood arose, I didn’t want to let it slip by.
Especially since the young girl in me has always longed to be a footy player.
So cross-coding now was the perfect time.
Plus, in five years, it would have been a lot harder as the depth of talent will be greater because those teenage girls who are getting a footy in their hands now will be draft eligible, so it was now or never.
I know I can do it too.
As a professional athlete, my ego will not allow me not to give my absolute best.
I am going to do everything in my power to make sure I am playing well by the time the 2018 Season rolls around.
I’m too proud a person not to want to do well – you don’t reach the elite level for any sport without having some form of drive.
It’s a huge challenge, and while I have so much to learn about my new environment, I’m also looking forward to playing a mentoring role inside the four walls at Collingwood.
It was one of the main reasons why they chose to recruit me.
While they’ll be showing me how to kick a ball, I’ll be teaching them on what is required to be a professional athlete.
It’s not easy being an athlete – you have to have the hard conversations with your teammates, coaches and most importantly yourself.
You have to be able to give and take feedback, get over injuries and even be doing everything you can in regards to recovery and injury prevention.
It’s not just what you put out on the training track, it’s about all those one-percenters that define your success and longevity.
Talent only gets you so far – and doesn’t sustain without hard work.
And take it from me – I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my athletic career where I wish I had someone when I was 18, telling me the things I will be sharing with my new teammates at the Holden Centre.
I’m looking forward to being the athlete they need, and the footy player they see in me.