I never thought that I would be able to top the feeling that came when we won the inaugural 2017 AFLW Grand Final.

I was wrong… Three weeks ago, I ran out in front of 53,034 screaming fans for this year’s premiership decider and it was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.

We marked a new record crowd for a standalone women’s sport event in Australia, which was the third biggest crowd at Adelaide Oval for any male or female AFL game.

Winning that second flag with the Adelaide Football Club… It’s still something I struggle to find the words for. It was unreal and something I’ve never experienced before.

Our inaugural flag in 2017 was historically special. But 2019, was a different kind of special. We started off our season poorly, losing to the Western Bulldogs and kicking 1.11 for the match. Most had written us off for the season after that performance, but we knew we were much better than that.

We fought to prove ourselves, week in, week out, for the rest of the season, and that we did. We earned our spot in the Grand Final this year through winning a preliminary final and that made it clear to us that we deserved to be there.

Image Supplied: Creative photographer credit – Sue McKay (@KickItToMe)

Featuring in a Grand Final in any sport can be a rarity. Some athletes go through their entire career without the opportunity to experience one.

So, to be in the ‘decider’ (the second for many of us) was something no one in the team took for granted. Not only was the opportunity to play in a Grand Final something to relish, but the location of the game added to the fairy tale of this special day.

To all South Australians, the Adelaide Oval is sacred. It’s a stadium I have grown up with, cheering in the old stands for any sport that was played there and witnessed the transformation from the outdated iconic stadium into a world class facility for spectators and players.

Image Supplied: Creative photographer credit – Sue McKay (@KickItToMe)

To have 95% of this 53,034 crowd cheering for your team was spine tingling. By a country mile the largest crowd I’ve ever played in front of and I will never ever forget the feeling of being out on that oval. And to win at the final siren, just topped it all off.

To be involved in the first three seasons of AFLW and already be a dual premiership player is something I’ll hold onto forever.

Image Supplied: Creative photographer credit – Sue McKay (@KickItToMe)

I wanted to make sure I celebrated our 2019 success and enjoy every moment I spent with my team in the days and weeks following that magical day. Not only because of our successful season and the history created, but because I knew there was a decision looming that would change the course of my career as a dual sport athlete.

Although I was on cloud nine in those moments, I was rather emotional as I knew with list lodgments for the AFLW pending, I had a very serious decision to make.

Deep down, I knew months ago exactly what I needed to do. It’s a decision that I have been putting off for some time, simply because AFLW, the team, the club and the way it has changed the landscape of sport forever has meant so much to me.

Letting AFLW go was the last thing I wanted to do.

Image Supplied: Creative photographer credit – Sue McKay (@KickItToMe)

Backtracking for just a moment…. I made the decision to extend my contract with the Brisbane Roar mid-way through the 2018/19 W-League season, as I was having arguably my most consistent season.

I believe it was because I had begun to enjoy the sport again that I’ve loved for my entire life…. after a difficult 12 months prior that saw me almost throw away the sport for good.

For the first time, I felt as though I was giving myself a real chance to push for greater opportunities in soccer. But to do that, I firstly needed to finish the season at the Roar and then be all-in for 365 days of the year.

For a while now, given my status as a dual sport athlete, this has been something I have simply never been able to fully commit toward and in truth, a decision that I did not want to make. I knew if I wanted to achieve these very clear goals, then I had to commit fully to the sport.

So now the time has come for me to walk away from the AFLW (for now), so I can return to soccer with a fresh and renewed focus. I want to be the best possible player I can be and I want to allow myself every opportunity to pursue my greater goals.

Deep down, I know this is what I need to do in order to test myself. I don’t want to look back with regrets, for not just giving my soccer career a fully committed shot.

However, with sacrifices, comes sadness and loss… At the end of the day, I have to live with the decisions I make in life and I’m confident that I’m on the right path.

My plan from here is to focus all my energy on continuing to progress and to have another strong W-League season.

I don’t want to focus too much on the big picture, I just want to consistently perform and if rewards come to me because of that, I will take them with open arms.

I’m not using my end goal as the driving factor, but rather allowing the process of getting to where I want to be, as my main motivation.  This process I know will be difficult, challenging and full of hard work.

I know myself now as an athlete and believe that I perform my best when I am confident and enjoying myself in the moment.

As mentioned above, I’ve been in a place where I didn’t think soccer was the sport I wanted to pursue, but after my last season in the W-League, I have found my love for the game again.

I went out to each and every training session and game with the Brisbane Roar, with absolutely no expectations except to enjoy the experience and train hard, and I think that was the best thing I could have done for myself.

I feel privileged that I get to play alongside some of the best players in this country and many excellent athletes from around the world, and I’m excited to see how much more I can develop by putting all of my focus into this.

If things don’t happen to work out for me the way I’d like, I will still be content within myself. Taking risks and making life changing decisions can be daunting, but something I’ve learnt over the years, is that if you’re not outside of your comfort zone, you don’t grow as a person and you won’t encounter new life experiences.

So many people have supported me throughout my career. I hope you will continue to join me through this journey wherever it may take us. I’m not done yet!