Footy has always been #1 in my life. So too has basketball.

Yep – in every sense of the word, I am a dual sport athlete to the core.

I am caught in this love triangle I simply can’t get out of.

And don’t expect it to change anytime soon.

My whole life, I have worked tirelessly to juggle both sports – one thing I have become very good at, is shifting my priorities when I need too.

Which is why right now, footy is the only thing I am thinking about each day when I rise out of bed.

My WNBL season came to a disappointing finish, with my Melbourne Boomers falling to the Townsville Fire in the grand final. Yet I have had barely any time to digest it all.

Just 12 days after the grand final, I was making my debut for the Western Bulldogs in the AFLW League; kicking a Sherrin around with my other “summer” teammates.

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Footy has always been a constant for me – it all started when I was 10 years old, when I was playing alongside the boys in the local U12s League.

Of course, at that age and time, pathway opportunities were limited for me.

Yet I would search for any opportunity to stay involved in the game.

As such, I played with the boys at Doutta Stars until I was 14. From there, I went straight to playing with Melbourne University’s U18 youth girls team, and would stay there for my entire youth girls career.

To be only 14 years of age, and playing alongside and against young adults, was incredibly daunting but it definitely aided my football development.

I made the Victoria Metro team for three consecutive seasons, and was All Australian during those same years.

I also played regularly with the Calder Cannons.

Looking back now, I never stopped playing AFL football! All the way basketball never took a back seat.

Throughout it all I was playing for the Melbourne Tigers junior basketball team, training twice a week and playing every Friday night.

I was selected to the Vic Metro basketball team every year, winning the gold medal with the U18 state team, which opened the door to my selection into the U17 Australian team.

Of course, there were times where footy and basketball couldn’t help but clash with each other.

And in my Australian U17 basketball year, that is exactly what happened – footy with Vic Metro had to fade to the background, as I travelled to Spain for the world junior basketball championships.

exclusive insight monique conti

Amazingly, we won gold, making history and I was proud to be selected in the All Star 5 team.

After I landed back in Australia, Guy Molloy the coach of the Melbourne Boomers called me in for a meeting and offered me a spot on the team. Not as a development player – but straight on the list.

As a 16 year old, my life was at a bit of a crossroads.

I had all but convinced myself that I would commit to playing with a division one college basketball team in the United States.

I received interests from over 30 schools in America – in the end, I opted to turn down those offers to play in the WNBL, while also signing a four year contract with Deakin University to play with the Melbourne Boomers.

An agreement that would see my basketball linked with an education, so that I could also pursue my footy career.

The following year I was selected for the U19 Australian team for the world championships in Italy, and again footy had to take a back seat.

But when I returned to the country, I went straight from the airport to suit up for Melbourne University’s footy team.

I was able to play with Uni for the final five games of the season prior to the draft & combine.

So of course, the question often posed to me is how long will I keep this going before I have to make a choice between basketball and footy?

Well, I don’t think I need to be backed into a corner and told to make a choice between my two sports.

I simply can’t choose between them.

Many people don’t know that I actually had to miss participating in the AFL draft combine as it was the day before my first WNBL game for the 2017/18 Season.

I make whatever sacrifices I have to, whenever I have to, in order to pull this off.

Right now, I’m not looking too far into the future; obviously I want to keep playing AFLW because the competition is only getting bigger and better each year, and I want to make sure I am part of that growth.

While I simply won’t be stopping basketball anytime soon either.

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I have always aspired to reach for the stars and set lofty goals for myself, and as such, I want to play for the Opals at future olympic games, as well as play in the WNBA against the best basketball players in the world.

That would be an absolute dream come too, and I am super focused on doing everything I can to edge towards that goal.

I know that it’s important to take my career day by day.

The truth of the matter is, I do see myself being a dual sport athlete for the entirety of my career, similar to how Ellyse Perry was able to play soccer and cricket at the highest possible level.

Ellyse is such an incredible role model for young athletic girls, as too is someone like Erin Phillips who played and enjoyed so much success in the WNBA, as she now looks to finish her sports career in the AFLW league.

I take plenty of inspiration from Ellyse, Erin and other dual sports women that blazed the trail for me to pursue my own athletic ambition.

Each day, whether I wake up as a basketballer or AFLW player, all I set out to do is improve and get better, striving to be the best possible version of myself in that sport.

These next few weeks ahead shape as a really exciting time for me and my Bulldogs teammates – it just feels like everything is clicking for us right now.

The coaching staff has put so much faith in us players to go out there and execute our game plan, and that has really spurred us through these opening rounds.

The challenge now is really on us to continue to build on what we have achieved so far this season – footy is such an unpredictable game, and it only takes a few wrong turns to lose all that momentum.

We are all up for that challenge though.