AFTER two dominant seasons with the Bomaderry Tigers, Kate Bramley took her Australia Football exploits to the national stage with NSW, at the recent AFL Masters National Carnival.
This was the first time the 45-year-old was selected for her state, to compete at the 37th annual holding of the event, staged at Townsville from Sunday, September 29 to Saturday, October 5.
"As there aren't that many masters women's players, it was more of an invitation to play than a selection," Bramley said.
"Regardless of that, I put my hand up and was excited to be involved for the first time - in just the fourth time ever the women's division has been staged."
During the tournament, each team played two games and the two sides with the highest percentage progressed to the final.
Bramley's side opened their campaign with a tough 7.5-47 to 1.2-8 win against Victoria Country.
NSW then make it two from two, downing South Australia 8.9-57 to 1.4-10, which set up a finals match with Queensland.
But against a younger Queensland side, Bramley's NSW side suffered their first loss of the competition, falling 7.8-50 to 1.3-9.
"Even though we lost, I really enjoyed the physicality and pace of the Queensland game - it was most similar to the games we play in our local AFL South Coast competition," the Berry product said.
"I felt I played my best game and was rewarded with a Player of the Carnival award after this game.
"This was an inaugural award for NSW, given to one player from each NSW team who embodied the spirit of the tournament, played hard, ran all day and did everything the coach asked of them.
"I was pretty chuffed as we have some amazingly skilled and experienced players on the team who I learnt a lot from over the week."
If these three games weren't enough, Bramley also backed up for West Australia and Victoria Metro on the Wednesday and Saturday respectively, which she thoroughly enjoyed - especially playing the new position as a forward.
"There was so many highlights during the week - meeting so many passionate, fun, ladies who love their footy and kicking five goals was pretty cool," she said.
"As I usually play in the backs, in the first game as a forward, I had to keep reminding myself which way we were kicking but once I got my head around it, I was fine.
"I enjoyed the experience and challenge of playing in a different position."
Bramley appreciates this opportunity would never have been possible if not for the Bomaderry Tigers.
"I learnt how to play the game at the Bomaderry Tigers and I'm still learning to this day," she said.
"I'm very grateful of how encouraging and supportive everyone at the club has been of a 44-year-old signing up to play for the first time last season.
"I'm so excited for the opportunities that young girls have in sport these days - I wished that it had happened 25 years ago."
Bramley, who was part of the Tigers inaugural premiership winning side in 2018, is already looking ahead to playing for her state again in 2020.
"It was special to pull on the NSW guernsey and I'm excited to, hopefully, do it again in Perth next year," Bramley said.
"I'm going to encourage a few local Shoalhaven women to join me if I can."
The women's masters division was won by Victoria Metro, who defeated South Australia 5.8-38 to 3.0-18 in the final.