A TALENTED dual-sport athlete, Australian rules football defender Jemma Blair knows the toll that travel takes on someone expected to hit the road multiple times a week. Having taken up the sport in the Northern Tasmania Junior Football Association (NTJFA) with East Launceston, Blair balanced her fledgling football career with a netball one that took her all across the Apple Isle.
“I’d have two or three netball games a week, and one or two football games a week, so that would probably be about five trainings a week as well,” Blair said. “On the weekend I’d always be around the state with netball and footy.”
Blair’s football journey began five years ago, and soon she moved through the pathway in the NTJFA, then joined North Launceston, and was selected for Tasmania Devils.
“This is going into my fifth year of football, so I was fortunate enough to start my second year when the junior and NTJFA started up in Launceston so I joined East Launceston Football Club,” Blair said. “Then played there for a few years, my dad ended up coaching there as well, so I was fortunate enough to have my dad there as well.
“I grew to love the game and also played a bit of netball as well, so playing side by side with those two sports. “Then last year I was fortunate enough to start with Devils, and also North Launceston Football Club in the TSL, which has unfortunately collapsed so I’ve now gone to Old Scotch this year as well.”
The travel was “quite difficult” for the teenager, with the sports often clashing, and Blair having to pick between training sessions for both sports.
“A lot of the time I had to choose between which training to go to because it did clash a bit, and both playing at state leagues as well, it was a bit of travelling as well,” Blair said. It was all across the state.”
Having tasted NAB League Girls action last year for the Devils, Blair has enjoyed running out of defence and creating plays in transition down the field.
“I like looking around the ground, getting to know the play, reading the play, just repelling the ball back into our forward line,” Blair said. “My strength is around the ball. “My composure and definitely reading the ball as well. “Definitely leadership, I love getting the voice around the girls, helping them, direct them.”
In 2021, Blair is eyeing off improving her skills and hitting targets more often, as well as becoming a more consistent mark. Her goal is to play more games and become an established player at NAB League Girls level.
“Last year we didn’t have much, it was quite a quick season with Devils, so hoping for a longer season this year and to get a few games over in Melbourne,” Blair said. “And definitely meeting new people and seeing how far I can go.”
Blair’s father has been her inspiration over the years, and the teenager considers him her idol. Looking forward, Blair is aiming to achieve everything she can in the sport and just go as far as possible.
“My dad has definitely supported me and pushed me to start football so he’s definitely my idol,” she said. “I just enjoy the sport really, so as far as I can get, to reach as far as I can go, just keep pushing and take every opportunity that I have.”