AFL may not be the most popular sport in NSW, but that has not stopped South Nowra’s Maddy Collier from breaking away from the norm and embracing the sport as her own.
The Nowra High School student has recently been selected for the NSW youth girls squad after a sensational season playing for the Kiama Power and the Wollongong Saints.
It has been a whirlwind rise to success for the 17 year-old, who only started playing AFL in 2011.
“I went along to my brother’s footy practice a lot and I was asked if I wanted to play in a girls’ team. They couldn’t get enough players for a Shoalhaven side, so I went to play in Kiama,” she said.
Last season Collier started to play a few games for the Wollongong Saints, a team that competes in the Sydney Women’s League.
At the end of the season she was nominated for the rising star award, which recognises new talent in the league.
This year she will play a full season with the club, and playing centre, Collier has her work cut out for her on the field.
“Playing in the midfield you have to be pretty fit,” she laughed.
Collier was lucky enough to have a training session with the Sydney Swans last month, when players Lewis Roberts-Thomson and Shane Mumford trained with her Saints team at Wollongong’s North Dalton Park.
“They worked with me on my kicking technique and how to perfect it. Also about game sense, and how to manipulate the other side,” she said.
In November last year, Collier captained the Illawarra side at the state carnival in Canberra.
From this she was selected in the NSW youth girls squad which will play in the AFL Youth Girls National Championships in Victoria in May.
This is the third year Collier has been selected in the squad, which she said is slowly growing in competitiveness as AFL gains popularity in NSW.
“I only met a few of the girls at a training camp we went to, but I know everyone now and we are getting closer. There is a core group of us that have played as a team for the last few years,” she said.
As rugby league is the most popular code of football in NSW, Collier said her team has struggled against the other AFL dominant states of Victoria and South Australia.
“We haven’t won a game yet but we came close last year. We have a better team than we have ever had before so we are hoping to get a better result,” she said.
Collier said she enjoys the challenge of playing AFL.
“I like the integrity of it. It keeps me fit, it is fun and I really enjoy the game,” she said.
The Australian championships will be an opportunity for Collier to be scouted for the AFL Women’s High Performance Academy, where Australia’s best players come together for an intense AFL camp.
“I want to make the All Australian team, which is a squad chosen out of all the state teams. It is basically the best a youth girl can do,” she said.
She has a long term goal of playing in the NSW women’s team.