IF you are a West Australian Football League (WAFL) Women’s fan, chances are you have heard of talented AFL Women’s Academy member, Shanae Davison. Her fan base increased on the weekend when she took a massive pack mark in the dying minutes of Swan Districts’ loss to Claremont. While the mark has not defined her career, it has certainly put her in the spotlight this week and she spoke to Draft Central about that moment and her Australian rules football journey.
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“I’ve talked about it for ages actually,” Davison said of the mark. “I had a bet last year with Ebony Antonio that if I could take a screamer, she’d give me $100. “It was a bit of a build up from last year. “I think the ball was set up very nicely and I actually just went up for a normal mark and ended up getting my knee in her back, which was good, and I just kind of carried.”
While she missed the subsequent set shot, as well as not collecting her reward, she did not have to wait long for a second chance, taking a second mark, albeit a little closer to the ground and nailed that goal with the final kick of the game. The loss marked Swan Districts’ first after winning their opening game of the season a week earlier. Davison said she had enjoyed just running around given the current climate and restrictions in other parts of the country.
“It’s been good,” she said. “I’ve just been happy to play again. “(It’s been a) very long preseason and I was injured for most of it. “To be out and just run around and kick the footy again, it was really good to get back out.”
That injury was a serious one resulting in a number of torn ligaments in her ankle, something that is still “a bit of a niggle” but manageable. She certainly showed no signs of issues with her leap on Sunday, and admitted the season delay had helped her have extra preparation.
“Oh yeah 100 per cent (the delay helped),” she said. “I think I would have missed a couple of games of footy if it wasn’t delayed.”
Rewinding the clock back to the beginning of her football journey, Davison said she was always a fan of the oblong ball game even as a young child.
“I always played footy,” she said. “I grew up in Broome and I played with the boys but when I moved to Perth, one of the girls was like we kind of need more numbers to play community footy so I started there. “Went through all the talent pathways and made my way to Swans and was lucky enough to debut in the first game for League.”
Having originally expected to run out with the Under 18s (Rogers Cup), Davison was fast-tracked into the senior team after showing some impressive form on the track under a pretty talented coach.
“I was actually there for Rogers Cup, but I trained with the League girls and Kara Antonio was the coach and she always said it doesn’t matter how old you are and if you could play you were going to be on the field,” Davison said. “So I was very lucky to have her as a coach and the development from her was really good.”
Davison’s love for football blossomed through her family’s support, with her grandfather being a “massive” Geelong supporter. The Swan Districts forward credits both him and her uncle for helping develop her love for the game by having kick-to-kicks and sitting on the couch watching the blue and white hoops.
While last year Davison did not play in the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships, she spent her time in the Western Australia Academy over summer, and developed through the Swan Districts program over the past few seasons. Last year one of her teammates at the Swans was pre-listed for expansion club West Coast, in Mikayla Bowen.
“We played at Swans together and she’s just such a good person,” Davison said. “She’s always checking on you, seeing how you are. “Making sure you feel comfortable with what you’re doing. “We actually ended up being really good friends and we still are now. It’s been really good to watch her go through what she did last year and the success she had so it’s really helped me to see where she’s at now and that’s where I want to be.”
Even after Bowen was drafted, Davison said the teenager kept in touch with her and was always there offering advice or support.
“I think I’ve asked her a couple of things how she’s going and she’s asked me how I’m feeling about the draft and things like that,” she said. “So it’s really good to have someone to talk to like Mikayla Bowen. “Even a couple of the other girls like Kellie Gibson and that. It’s just been good to have a chat. “But I’m really not trying to think too far into it, just play some footy and have fun.”
In 2020, Davison is just one of a number of talented AFL Women’s Draft hopefuls coming through the program, with fellow Academy member Mikayla Morrison crossing from East Perth, as well as other West Australian talents in Nyra Anderson and Mikayla and Brianna Hyde. Davison said she believed having a strong group of players all aiming for the same thing – being drafted into the AFL Women’s – helped drive the team forward.
“Yeah I think that really helped,” Davison said. “I notice that we push each other at training and we can all see that we all want to get drafted, so at training it’s always very competitive, especially the Hyde twins. “I’m really good friends with them, so it’s just the good chats with them about how we’re feeling and I think we’ve just settled each other’s nerves a bit.”
It also helped Davison settle into the West Australian Academy with so many familiar faces. Then came the call about the AFL Women’s National Academy. It was an announcement that surprised the humble forward.
“Yeah that was pretty exciting,” she said. “I definitely wasn’t expecting that and that was a very good experience.”
Through the AFL Women’s National Academy, Davison travelled to Darwin and mingled with the most talented players from across the country. It gave her a broader perspective on the talent out there, and from then she took more notice in what was happening around the country. When asked if she was a bit of a ‘footy head’, she was becoming more and more involved in other leagues.
“I am a little bit,” she said. “Honestly last year I didn’t really know much about what was happening in the other states. “It wasn’t until I met the girls and we got talking and things like that. “I think this year I’ve definitely followed it a little bit closer and it’s definitely been cool to see some of the girls’ names chucked in some articles and things like that who I’ve trained and had some really good connections with.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented plenty of challenges, Davison said the Academy players kept in touch over the past few months following the camp. While not able to physically see her friends from the camp, Davison is happy with the West Australian group who are always pushing each other to succeed.
“I’ve mainly talked to the WA girls,” she said. “I’ve talked to a couple of girls in Queensland. “I haven’t really had a chat with anyone in Victoria but I imagine it would be very hard over there, especially just when you want to play footy and you can see the other states getting their season along. “We kinda kept in contact just after the camp and COVID we kept in contact, but it’s kinda just drifted off a little bit now.”
Considering the mark on the weekend, it is no surprise that the Swan Districts talent rates her marking as one of her strengths, but also her ability to read the play. Davison is keen to improve her bodywork in one-on-one situations to be able to “do the work early”, enabling her to win more contests.
While she would love to spend some time onball in the future, Davison is just happy to be out there and loving playing football. She is not too sure what the future might hold, but consistency is the key. After missing a bulk of the preseason through her ankle injury, Davison is raring to go and intent on building her fitness week by week and improve her football in any way possible. As for Swan Districts, Davison is quietly confident they will fare well in season 2020.
“I think we’ll go alright,” Davison said. “We have a very new team, very young. “But I think we’ll really just want to win, so I think this week we have Subi and that will be a really good test to see where we’re at as a group.”