Despite the fact that she only discovered that women could play AFL when she was 25 – after googling the sport – GWS Giant’s captain Amanda Farrugia, 32 has since taken the ball and run with it.
After picking up a footy at uni, the talented utility soon progressed through the divisions and was well placed to join the Giants for the inaugural women’s comp in 2017.
“There’s no better time to be a woman in sport,” Amanda says. “The recognition of our professionalism and athleticism, the profile and the opportunities are growing. I think pay parity will come too. Sport is breaking down barriers.”
Amanda, who’s also a high school PE teacher, says AFL has given her confidence - “I’ve never been fitter!’ - and hopes her dual roles as a teacher and semi-professional sportswoman inspires the teen girls in her care. “I think it’s been quite eye-opening for them,” says Amanda. “I’ve really used AFL and sport as an opportunity to show them that you can really cram a lot into life if you’re passionate about things.”
Amanda also believes that seeing women playing AFL helps her pupils question gender stereotypes. “Sport can provide a really good template for young girls to show them that there are women out their pursuing – and succeeding - in sports that aren’t traditionally female-oriented,” says Amanda. “They’re seeing women with the courage to have a go purely because they love the sport. I hope I can show that background or gender doesn’t have to stop you from playing a sport or doing what you love.”
Amanda’s heritage is Maltese and she admits women playing AFL aren’t common in her background, but she received nothing but encouragement from family when she announced she was lacing up a pair of footy boots. “My parents and boyfriend – now husband – were surprised and they had a few concerns because I’m quite small and the game is physical but the knew it was what I wanted to do so they supported me 100%,” she says.
Now as Giant’s captain, Amanda says developing each player’s individual skills is one of her key contributions to the team. “I want to help my teammates identify their strengths and show them how to use their skills to their – and the Giant’s – advantage,” she says. “I want to show my teammates – and my pupils - that we all have something worth contributing. It’s about striving for the greater good.”
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