TRANSITIONING from a sport that has become second nature to you, to one that is familiar through watching, is never easy. But for Geelong Falcons premiership midfielder, Tarryn Love there are no regrets making the switch from netball to Australian Rules.
“I didn’t probably start until last year which was my first full season,” she said. “But I played a little bit for school in school teams for day tournaments and then played in a couple of games in the Youth Girls competition in 2015. “My first full season wasn’t until last year at St Mary’s and then this year’s been my second. “When I was younger it was just my mum who put me into the netball team and since I was in there since I was nine or 10, I just grew up playing it. “Both my older brothers played football, so while I was playing netball after I would always go and watch my brothers play. It was always there, I just never got involved in it. “I was watching it. “I was just playing netball the whole time so just locally at Inverleigh and a couple of rep teams and Indigenous Australian team and just netball the whole time so I was pretty preoccupied with that. then I made the switch to footy last year and it was pretty fun.”
The inside midfielder thrives on the contact that comes with burrowing under the packs and laying fierce tackles – something that weighed heavily on her decision to make the change from netball to football.
“I just really like the fact you do a lot more in a game,” she said. “In netball because of my size and the position I was in, it was pretty restrictive around what I can do, whereas football there’s so much you can do and I just really like the physicality of the game and that sort of thing.”
The ability to influence a game in any position really gave Love the confidence to make the switch and while the AFL Women’s has made the long-term pathway a reality for female footballers at the elite level, the Falcons midfielder said her decision came down to what she loved most.
“I think to me it really comes down to enjoyment rather than the end goal,” she said. “In netball I was really enjoying it and I always thought ‘I wanna play Vixens, I want to go further’ but when it came down to playing the season at St Marys, I thought if I was to pick between what I enjoyed more, and what I got most out of, I think I’d pick footy. “It was just sort of a bonus that the pathway has got so much stronger now. “I never looked too much at the end-goal, I just look at how much I enjoying it and that kind of thing, but it definitely has helped me though.”
Love’s 2018 season has not come without disappointment. In Round 4, the Falcons travelled to face the equally unbeaten Murray Bushrangers at Queen Elizabeth Oval. After an impressive first half, Love went down with injury and ended up missing a number of games, giving her a greater insight into how the code worked.
“I think I’ve developed a lot throughout this year and I’ve learnt a lot being at Falcons and had injury which kept me off for about four weeks so that was annoying being out for those weeks,” she said. “But watching from the sidelines I also learnt a lot as well too.”
Like many others, Love said it was clear the standard of female football was improving at a rapid rate.
“Yeah definitely, I think the standard keeps getting better and better,” she said. “I watched a couple of the TAC Cup games last year and playing them this year, even myself you can see the standard is definitely getting better.”
The first year university student is studying Arts, with a focus on Aboriginal studies and sociology, with an end-goal of graduating in a law degree.
For now she will focus on the National AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships coming up next month, saying she is “nervous, but excited” about representing Vic Country. Love said her strengths include getting underneath the contest and breaking away in transition. Her focus is to work on the improvements she has set herself.
“I think I need to improve the accuracy of my disposals,” she said. “When it comes to kicks because coming from netball I had never kicked a ball properly so that was learning to try and do that properly and that’s definitely developed over the season, but I think there’s definitely more to improve on in that sense.”
It might seem like an eternity away with so much to happen in between, but for Love, the dream is clear.
“Definitely, the dream is to get drafted so hopefully I keep working hard that can be achieved soon,” she said.