FORMER field hockey player, Annise Bradfield heeded her neighbour’s advice to take up Australian rules football and has never looked back. The talented 172cm player managed a couple of games at last year’s AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships in her bottom-age year, having overcome plenty in her short career.
“I started my footy journey when I was 12,” Bradfield said. “My neighbour was the president of a footy club so he wanted me to come down and try-out and from there, just trying out for all the teams. “I dropped field hockey, (which) was my other sport and then there’s been a couple of major setbacks in the last couple of years.”
Bradfield said she had “just lost interest” for hockey after playing it for a decade and opted to give it up in search of a fresh challenge. It came in the way of the oblong ball at her local club Southport, but it was far from smooth sailing on her football journey.
“I have dislocated my knee but I also have a problem with my heart, so that’s probably been the major setback for me,” Bradfield said.
Through the help of Southport then the Gold Coast SUNS Academy, Bradfield grew through the pathway to represent Queensland at the championships. She was also named in the AFL Women’s Academy as a bottom-age prospect last year – the only one from the SUNS Academy and one of two from the entire state to achieve the feat. She said it was difficult at times with her setbacks but it made her return to the football field all the more special.
“It’s really good (to play for Queensland), it’s hard obviously watching from the sideline a lot so it gives you heaps of encouragement,” Bradfield said. “When you get back out there it’s just an awesome feeling, just the atmosphere around everyone and then when they all get behind you it’s really good.”
Bradfield’s run and carry and her decision making in the forward half of the ground is what separates her from a lot of other players. Her inspiration is Richmond’s Katie Brennan with the skipper’s setbacks giving Bradfield hope throughout her footballing journey. The next step for the Queenslander is to continue developing her skills and set shots, and becoming more proactive rather than reactive, with her football.
Playing at the elite journey level is far from easy, and it takes a toll on other aspects of life. Bradfield admitted the skill of juggling her school work with her sporting commitments was difficult at times, but she was finding a nice balance.
“It is tough,” Bradfield said. “But you kind of just do what you have to do, all the teachers and everything are really supportive and all the coaches understand if you need to bring school work with you so it all works out pretty well.”
While the commitments include plenty of travel such as commuting to Brisbane twice a week for training when the state side is in action or flying interstate, it is all part of the long-term goal, which will hopefully come to fruition at the end of 2020 for the AFL Women’s National Academy member.
“The main goal is to be drafted and obviously debut but just for now, to keep working through,” Bradfield said.