Holbrook’s Alyce Parker made a tough decision to step away from netball with Wodonga Raiders to focus on her dream of playing in the AFLW. She caught up with The Border Mail’s Beck O’Connell this week.
BO: You played all your juniors at Holbrook before making the move into Ovens and Murray with Wodonga Raiders this year. How was that?
AP: Going into my senior year at school, I thought it was safer to stay out at Holbrook, but (Raiders’ coach) Jodie House convinced me. I definitely knew it was the right decision from my first session with them.
BO: You were only able to play the first few games with Raiders and I’m assuming football was the other commitment that took your attention?
AP: I was extremely lucky to have had Jodie and her support. Every time I was away it didn’t affect her at all and as soon as I came back I was into the A-grade side. I think I missed four games in the first eight weeks and it definitely wasn’t fair on Jodie and the team. That was my responsibility to make that call (to step back) and it’s definitely helped with my footy and allowed me to focus on that and school at the same time.
BO: With Raiders being one of the youngest sides in the entire competition, what were some of the challenges you faced at that time?
AP: I was the second youngest in the team and the oldest player in the team at one stage was 19, only two years older than me. Something that really stood out for me was when Jodie said she loved the fact how young we were and it made us fearless. That was something I learned from. We couldn’t get that success for a while, but I felt it was building and I can see now that the girls have still got that approach since I’ve left.
BO: You’re a legend in women’s football, talk us through a little bit of your career so far and your movements.
AP: I started at local level with Thurgoona and we won our first premiership two weeks ago which was awesome. I was also playing at state level, so I was a part of the NSW academy, which started in December and finished a month ago with nationals on the Gold Coast. I’m part of the AFLW academy which is the top-33 across Australia leading into the draft in Melbourne, which I’ve just been invited to.
BO: Have any clubs approached you or have you just been invited?
AP: You have to not only pick the club you want, but the club that’s going to look after you the best and offer as many as things as they can outside of footy as well. I’d like to keep that to myself and everyone will find out soon enough, but it’s exciting.
BO: We know women’s football is reasonably new, but there’s obviously some good pathways for country girls to be able to get their foot in the door?
AP: The NSW-ACT pathway, especially in the last five years, has built out of sight. That’s the exact reason I’ve achieved everything I have in the last few years, purely because the opportunities have arisen.
BO: Where do you want to be in the next couple of years?
AP: Hopefully I do well at the combine in Melbourne on October 2 and 3 and head back down on the 23rd for the draft and hopefully get my name called out. Hopefully I find myself at a club and start training in November.
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