HAVING completed her Year 12 studies in 2019, Queensland ruck Lily Tarlinton has an advantage over a number of her teammates when it comes to juggling her life priorities. It certainly helps considering the amount of travel the North Queenslander has had to do over the years, and speaking to her at the AFL Women’s Under-18 Championships last year, you can sense she does not regret a thing.
“I started playing juniors when I moved to Mackay from a smaller town when I was seven, so this is my tenth year of footy,” Tarlinton said. “I played with the boys and did all the boys (representative) programs until I was about 14, and then the girls program started coming in and I got to come down here and do all the academy and Queensland stuff. “I really like it (Academy). “We have the academy programs in Mackay but coming down here it’s on a whole other level so it’s really good that the girls especially get to go down pretty frequently and get to experience how it is down here and sort of compare ourselves and get the experience of the different level that it is down south.”
The travel was no doubt a challenge for the teenager who just turned 18 last month.
“I was coming down (to state training) every couple of weeks or at one stage I was coming down every week for about three to four weeks, which I can’t complain about, it’s an amazing opportunity to be able to come down and to be awarded the opportunity to come,” Tarlinton said. “So I’m not really bothered by it, it’s just a hassle with school and everything like that but it’s really good.”
Even with her schooling last year, Tarlinton was on top of what she needed to do to keep up with her studies, while still focusing on a developing Australian rules football career.
“It was a bit hard, I’m in (Year) 12 now so it’s sort of just really important to organise everything, pretty much down to the hour or minute,” Tarlinton said at the championships last year. “So yeah, you’ve just got to cut out all the unnecessary stuff and focus on what you really need to do which is school and footy and that’s just about it.”
Tarlinton has plenty of reasons to remain in football with her strong family ties to the sport getting her into it, and then making friends along the way, who have inspired her.
“I fell in love with it when I was younger because I got to play with my brother, my older brother and it was something that we got to do together and we were always together when we were younger,” Tarlinton said. “And the amazing opportunities that have come from it, I just really like the game and I have always. “Definitely the older girls in the academy (are my inspiration), like the girls that have got drafted through the SUNS Academy and just all the girls I’ve gotten to learn off.”
Standing at 180cm at her bottom-age championships, Tarlington aims to use her height to her advantage, but understands she still has to build muscle and develop other parts of her game to make her a more complete player.
“I’m quite tall, so I can use that a little bit, I can pick the ball up off the ground pretty well, my leading I try to use as much as I can and try to kick goals whenever I can,” Tarlinton said. “Definitely my strength and my fitness (are improvements), I just want to put that up to the next level so I can compete here. “I’d like to improve my leadership because I’ve always been the youngest one in the group, so as I’m coming up I think that’s something I need to work on and something I’d like to do.”
Her goal of improving certain areas is clear, and she will push herself to compete at the highest possible level she can obtain.
“I’d like to move down south to the Gold Coast and be able to play at the highest level I can,” Tarlinton said. “Whether that’s in the QAFL and doing well or potentially looking at entering the draft, but hopefully just improving as much as I can and being the best footy player I can.”