It’s hard to imagine the goosebumps you get when girls tell you that they’re playing football because of you.

It’s just incredible to see how far the game has come in such a short period of time and how much growth is expected in the years to come.

So often I will get Instagram messages from young girls, who tell me that they started playing football after watching the Lions play in the AFLW.

Sport for me has given me so much happiness in my life and it’s been a place where I feel most at home.

The best thing about sport is it doesn’t matter how old or young you are, whether you’re male or female, it’s great for your mental health and it’s great for your physical health, and if I’m good at playing a small role in helping people improve those sides of their health..well, it’s great to be able to offer that to people.

Footy, of course, wasn’t my first love in sport.

My heart always belonged to Touch Football –  I played Touch for about 12 years, but I’m someone that loves a challenge and it just couldn’t stimulate me for the long-term.

In time, it became fairly mundane and you’re doing the same things over and over again.

I went down to an AFL training session with a friend of mine.

At first I thought I’d just be able to train because I’ve got a pacemaker and I didn’t know if I could actually play – but when I was at that training session, I just thought this is awesome. I could just see how much fun they were having.

As it turns out, they were short in numbers that weekend and I told my friend that I would play, but just not to tell my Mum… she would have freaked out had she found out at the time. Plus we weren’t all that sure if I was actually medically fit to play.

As soon as I’d played that game, I was like ‘Oh my God, I’m never going back to Touch..this game is amazing!’.

The sense of team camaraderie and the mateship that comes out of it, you can’t have one good player in an AFL team, you all need to be on the same page and I guess contributing evenly to be successful.

I just fell in love it became an instant obsession for me. I started putting in a lot of time and effort, to the point where Craig Starcevich asked me to come and train at the Academy. It just went from there.

This pre-season has been the one I’ve enjoyed the most. I’m really loving being around football again, last year I had a little bit going on outside of football. I wasn’t in a very good place mentally and that really started to affect my performance. I wasn’t really enjoying football or any exercise really, as much as I had been.

I had some distractions away from football, which prevented me from being able to be completely invested in the team and football.

But this year I really found the love of footy has come back. Being at training is my favourite place to be. Being around all the girls has been so enjoyable. From the minute I arrived, to the time I leave, the smile doesn’t leave my face.

I’m in a really good place at the moment and really enjoying footy.

I feel so grateful for the opportunity that I’ve been given from the Lions.

When I entered the draft, no one would have known anything about me because I’d played football for around two seasons and I’d only been included in the Queensland Academy a couple of months before the draft and I hadn’t come through any football pathway.

If the Brisbane Lions hadn’t given me the opportunity, no one else would have picked me up. I hadn’t really been exposed to any other state either.

I’m forever grateful for the opportunity that they presented me and because of that the club will always hold a spot very close to my heart.

At the forefront of it all has been Craig.

He’s just given me so much confidence – I mean with anyone that comes into the team, he makes you know why you’re there and tells you what your weapons are and wants you to use them.

Obviously I’ve got speed to burn and he always told me to back myself and if I get caught with the ball it’s fine, he’d rather me have a go.

He instills so much confidence in us both as players and people.

He’s come through coaching women for a lot of his life, he obviously played football with men and coached men to start with but coming over to the female program he knows what works for us and how we work as people, obviously it’s very different to coaching boys.

That’s one of the hardest things for coaches to come across and coach women – we’re pretty emotional people, to the point where if we respect you we’ll do anything for you.

Craig really recognises that and knows how to get the best out of us as people and as players. I think that’s why he has been so successful as our coach and he’s a great person so he’s great to have around.

We always talk about having genuine care for each other as players and as a coach I know Craig has genuine care for us all – as people before thinking of us as players.

This year shapes as a defining year for the club.

Craig hasn’t tried to change too much – we have had success it’s just been a goal each year that’s stood between us and a premiership.

I think we’ve recognised up here we’ve got a really good program –  it’s a little bit flattering from the point of view that we’ve had so many players of ours approached and go to other clubs as well.

A lot of clubs see we’re doing the right thing up here and want a piece of it for themselves.

From a development and tactical point of view and also a belonging point of view we really feel like we’ve got a great program here and I think that’s why we’ve been so successful.

We care about people as people first before players and I think that makes us feel respected and like we’re in a good spot.