WITH plenty of skill and talent on show throughout a relatively short career so far, Darwin youngster Mattea Breed‘s journey is one of remarkable achievements.
The 18-year-old has found her calling since picking up the footy in her early teens, making a name for herself in the Northern Territory as a tough player and effective ball user, with efficiency and physicality to boot.
“I started playing after I watched one of my cousins play footy in a local league, so I started midway through Under 15s and played maybe four or five games for the season, went on and did Under 18s for I think two years and it’s my third year this year, but moved up after the Christmas break to the premier league in the NTFL comp,” Breed said.
“In my first year of 18s I went away and did Thunder, got selected for Allies but during the training for that I had a lateral ligament in my knee, like I strained it so I couldn’t go away. So I missed out on that, didn’t do it the next year because I wanted to focus on school and then this is my third year now and I’m doing it, like this is the first time I’ve come to Allies.”
While her knee injury was not serious, it put a real spanner in the works for the young utility who had to make the difficult and selfless decision to pull out of the Central Allies in 2017.
“It wasn’t really major, it was just because it was like – it was maybe three weeks out before I was going away but the physio was (saying) about 4-6 weeks of recovery. So it was sort of like oh I’ll do that, there was no point going away if I’m not 100 per cent because that was just taking it away from somebody else. It was easy but it was just sort of like mentally I was like, that was crap, because I just did all of that for pretty much nothing.”
“I think it’s sort of good I can at least get here before my time is up I suppose, because I’m top-age now, so yeah, at least I got to do it.”
Despite being dealt her fair share of setbacks with injury and schooling keeping her out of AFLW Championships, Breed has just as many high points with a fairly decorated resume despite her age. Her impressive resume boasts NTFL Under 18 Girls Best and Fairest awards in 2016/17 and 2017/8, while a boost to the 2018/19 NTFL Premier League lead her to a third consecutive AFLW Championship selection. Breed also got the call-up to NT Thunder participating in VFL Women’s.
“I love it, I love premier league because I get along with a lot of the women really well, so that was good, to kind of step up a level to play that and then to go into that competition and play against a lot of them who I’m playing in the VFLW with … but now I’m doing that, a lot of the women I played against I’m now playing with.”
As for her VFLW debut, Breed said knowing as many players as she did from NTFL made the transition to Thunder all the more rewarding.
“That was good, that was like … the encouragement and all the girls getting around, because like I said I played against them, they all knew who I was and I think they thought it was really special because I’ve gone all the way through the programs,” Breed said. “To be at that level after going through the programs, like yeah this is the outcome that we want, so yeah like pretty special and significant.”
While NTFL has the physicality, Breed says the consistency and skill level of VFLW means she had to kick it up a notch both on the footy field and on the training track to keep up with the play.
“I like the skill level, you get to showcase what you’re good at a lot more because you have your teammates that do have skills as well to sort of assist with that. I think just the fitness aspect of it I’m like ‘ooooh god, I’ve gotta get fit!’”
The fierce competitor shows plenty of grit and determination on the field, using her size and physicality to impose herself on the contest.
“I think I just – when I can impact the play, I do. Like I sort of just go in and – not so much win hard ball, I think even though I don’t play a defensive position my defence and my tackles and stuff is good, and taking the marks in the packs, sort of getting it out of defence even though I play midfield and forwards but I think yeah sort of clearing it I suppose, being a bigger body,” Breed said. “I think it just like – I’m just used to doing it now, it’s just something – like if I didn’t do it, I don’t really know what else I’d do. It’s just something I’m used to having in my schedule, training and playing and stuff like that.”
With the AFL Women’s Draft coming up, Breed says that while the ultimate goal is to be drafted she’s not focusing too much on the future, with plenty of support from family and friends no matter what happens.
“Definitely my parents, my dad is so passionate about it sometimes he’s really hard on me about it, but my mum is so supportive of it whatever my decision is, so I think those two are the biggest influence I guess and I’m just trying to make them proud I suppose.”