Amy McDonald - My Redan Story
Tell us about how you came to play with Redan, your earliest netball or football memories and highlights playing junior netball with the club?
My earlier memories with Redan are playing football. I have one person to thank for introducing me to football and that is Chris Wilson. After the first round of Youth Girls, Redan was short of players and Chris asked me to come and give it a try and basically fill a spot on the ground!
My first memory is one that has stuck with me. It was the first time I was near the ball and the opposition had the ball so I went for the tackle and somehow ended up on the receiving end of a 20m piggy back. Since that first game the game grew on me and I have ended up loving playing football.
In regards to netball, my highlights were in the U/19s, which I began playing when I was 15. The first season I played my coach was Narelle Perkins and we were the underdog, no other teams saw us as a threat and to be honest we didn’t look all that threatening until finals where we miraculously climbed our way to the grand final and came away with the win!
Since then, Talia Roden-Holloway has been my coach and she has coached us to two premierships. So playing in a premiership side would have to be a highlight!
After your initial seasons the junior netball you decided to stop playing before returning to the club to play football instead. What was it that compelled you to try a different sport?
Playing football came by chance more than choice. The thought of playing football had never come across my mind until Chris asked me to play. I needed a break from netball at the time and it was just coincidental that that was when I began football.
Chris Wilson has championed Redan youth girls football for quite some time now, what makes him such an influential figure and great coach?
I believe Chris’s passion for coaching the Youth Girls was what made him so influential. He genuinely cared about each and every girl out on the field and would go above and beyond.
He always thrived to win but at the same time he make it fair for every player and let everyone play each position.
What have been the biggest highlights of your football career with Redan?
On a personal level it was winning the League Best & Fairest but as a whole, it was really just going out there week in week out and playing an enjoyable sport with some amazing girls.
You’ve also managed to represent Victoria on multiple occasions, can you describe that honor plus the increase in standard?
Being fortunate to represent Victoria was an amazing experience. From being able to meet lifelong friends from all over the state, to playing the highest level I possibly could was an unforgettable experience.
Playing at Nationals was were I found my love for football. Facing new challenges and playing opposition who were the best in Australia was exciting and I quickly became addicted to wanting to do it again and again.
In what ways have you found the two sports complement each other with your own experience?
I think the two sports go hand in hand. Footwork, endurance, hand-eye coordination, agility, physicality etc. are skills used in both sports. I believe that if I only played one or the other, I would not have been as successful.
How hard have you found combining the two sports in the same season?
Aside from being super busy I’m very lucky. I manage to balance the two with ease. Both my football and netball coaches have been understanding that I am committed to both sports and they are able to help create the balance. I play netball on Saturdays and football on Sundays and then train through the week.
Who are some of the netball and football coaches who have had the biggest impact on your development?
Talia Roden-Holloway is the netball coach who I look up to so highly and have learnt so much from. She is such an amazing person and the dedication she puts in for us is incredible. Talia is the reason I continue to play netball and I wouldn’t want to be playing this season without her.
Jeff Witikar is the coach who has had the biggest impact on my football. Jeff has coached me with the rebels for the past four years and he has always believed in me and given me countless opportunities. I have never known a person to have a bad word to say about Jeff and that is a true reflection of himself and everything he has done for girls in football.
If you could take your pick would you rather play in a winning Women’s AFL Grand Final or a win a Gold Medal with the Diamonds at the World Championships?
I would have to pick winning an AFL Grand Final. It is one of those things where you have never thought it was possible for this to happen.
How far has the BFL come in relation to change room facilities and support structures for women’s football during your relatively short time in the sport?
Women's football is going from strength to strength in Ballarat. From beginning with four Youth Girls Clubs to twelve Clubs and now clubs getting involved with senior women’s teams. Without the ongoing support and opportunities from the BFL, local clubs and people in general, female football would be nothing compared to what it is today.
What is your view on the likely impact of Women’s AFL on netball participation?
I don’t believe the impact will be vast. I think there is a lot of girls and women who will give football a try, whether they stick with the sport or just try it for a game or two, but this doesn’t mean they can’t play both and find a balance between the two sports.
How have you seen the inaugural season of the Women’s AFL and did you have any interest from clubs last season?
I watched quite a few games from the AFLW season and thoroughly enjoyed watching the games and physically seeing that it is a possibility to play AFL. Last season I unfortunately injured myself before the season had actually began so I spent the year on the sidelines and therefore had no communication or interest from any AFL clubs.
Do you intend to nominate for the next draft and what do you think you need to work on to make it at the elite level?
I believe it would be an opportunity wasted if I was to not nominate for the draft. I have quite a lot to work on if I want to be a consideration for the draft. Simple things like increasing my disposal rate and building my confidence back up after having some time off from the sport is just some of the improvements I need to make.
You are playing with the Rebels this season, what has that experience been like and will it enable you to have an involvement with Redan this year?
Being given the opportunity to play with the Rebels has enabled me to be involved with the Redan Women’s side. I was struggling to make a decision at the end of last year if I was to continue playing in 2017, but being given the chance to play with the Rebels this year has cemented it in that I will be sticking around at least for another twelve months!
What advice do you have for the junior netballers and footballers starting their careers at Redan?
Get out there, give it a go and chase your dreams!! It isn’t worth having regrets ten years down the track that you wished you did something different or pursued a certain sport/career.
Enjoy every moment out on the field or the court.