From not trying out for state to being a key player: Sergeant flourishes in football

LAST year, Western Australia’s (WA) Matilda Sergeant did not try out for the state side, despite coming up the ranks in Auskick, Youth Girls and League football.

Sergeant was instead asked to be a part of the side, and is so glad that she was approached to do so.

“I did not actually try out (for the WA state side) because I just thought I wasn’t really ready for that,” she said. “But I had a couple of coaches that I knew that were part of it and they said we really want you to come down. “I was like I may as well give it a shot and I’m so glad I did. “Last year’s carnival was so much fun. “The jump from last year to this year has just been huge and if I hadn’t done it last year, I wouldn’t have been here today I don’t reckon.”

In just her second year of the state program, Sergeant already sees the opportunity to progress further with the sport. She attributes this belief to the booming state of the AFL Women’s competition, admitting that it gives her and many others motivation to perform well in the sport.

“I feel like we have so much opportunity,” the top-ager said. “I feel like now’s the time to really pursue it. “I was just playing footy for fun and there wasn’t a league. “Then when it got to be the AFLW a couple of years ago, I was like this is something that I can actually really have a crack at and have a go.”

This has meant that Sergeant has been able to get closer to achieving her childhood dream.

“When they ask you want you want to be when you grow up in Grade 6, I always used to say I want to do a sport professionally,” she said. “I thought footy was something you could take to the next level.”

Sergeant did not think the same about basketball, a sport which she has played since she was a five years old. Although she played at a high level, she sees more of an opportunity to play Australian Rules professionally.

“I played almost 15 years of basketball,” the Western Australian said. “I played at a reasonably high level but then once I got into footy, I’ve always loved footy, and I just thought there was a bit more opportunity with footy. “It was just something exciting and new. “I think basketball’s just a really fun hobby but footy is something that I want to do for a while.”

Despite this, Sergeant is still playing basketball and coaches a team. She still does enjoy the sport, but it certainly puts a lot on her plate.

“I don’t have a day off basically,” the 19 year-old said. “So basically my life is just wake up, uni (university), work, footy and then repeat. “It’s alright, I really really enjoy both sports and I feel like both complement each other. “I think to see the next level and an end goal, it just keeps you motivated.”

Not only is the Western Australian focused on football, but she is also working hard to be a physical education teacher, currently studying at The University of Notre Dame in Fremantle. Although she admits the balance between football and studies can be stressful sometimes, she overcomes that because she is really committed to being a teacher.

“I’m second year uni (university), I’m doing a Bachelor of Health and Phys Ed (physical education) so I want to be a teacher,” Sergeant said. “It’s really good actually, it can be a bit stressful with footy and uni work but it’s alright, it’s something I really want to do.”

Sergeant also wanted to get her name out at the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. She did so successfully, earning a place in the All Australian squad after a consistent tournament. The 19 year-old not only had personal goals, but was committed to getting the results as a team.

“I just hope to get my name out there,” Sergeant said. “I think it’s a really good opportunity for a lot of guys to watch you and watch what you can do. “I mean obviously we want to win games, we’ve worked really hard as a team. “I think our team this year has been one of the strongest, like it’s been a really cohesive team. “Personally for me, I just want to get my name talking amongst people really. “I just want to show what I can do on the footy field and how I can help the team.”

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