She’s brought her muscles from Brussels and given the Everton Wolves under 15 girls side a Belgium boost.
At 178cm tall, fifteen-year-old Catherine Vander Meulen’s played just four games of football but is already making her mark on the game.
Arriving to Brisbane at the end of 2019, Catherine got her first taste of Aussie rules watching a Brisbane Lions game at the Gabba, but it wasn’t until her new classmates at Kelvin Grove State College got in her ear earlier this year and convinced her to come for a kick.
“I was actually so mad at my father for bringing us to Australia and leaving behind my country and friends,” explains Catherine.
“We relocated here as a family and I didn’t know anyone and definitely had never heard or seen AFL.
“Emily and Tilly, my classmates and now teammates, told me to come to the Wolves and try footy and it wasn’t until I started playing the game that I properly felt like I was in Australia and I was happy to be.
“I had never played a team sport before either. I love being at the Wolves, learning about Australian culture, making friends and it’s a time away from my brothers when they are annoying me!”
It’s been a milestone year for the under 15 girls side at Everton Park, not only welcoming the Belgium rookie, but it’s the first time they’ve fielded their own girls team into the South East Queensland competition.
“Last year we played as a merged side with the Ipswich Eagles and had about 20 players in total. This year both Everton and Ipswich are fielding teams in their own right; we have 24 registered girls and I believe Ipswich has 21,” says under 15 Everton Wolves Coach Glenn Bedford.
“It’s incredible year on year growth. I think you have to put some of that down to the Queensland being home of the AFL last year, along with the recent Brisbane Lions AFLW Premiership…“if you can see it, you can be it”
“But also, the girls had such a great time last season, considering it was pretty disjointed playing in a merged team, who we only trained with twice in the whole season. They’ve all come back and told their friends, who’ve brought their friends.”
On Sunday the two clubs met, after last year being a merged side. The Wolves taking home the win 3.2 (20) over Ipswich 1.2 (8), to make it four wins on the board.
“To be four from four is a great start to our season. We only won two games last year in the merged team so it’s great for the girls confidence. Ipswich have also won two of their matches. Instead of being two weak teams after breaking apart, we’ve turned into two strong teams,” said Glenn.
Asked about what Catherine brings to his team?
“I think she’s been really inspirational for the girls. She’s someone who’d never even seen the game, let alone played it and now she’s just an absolute star and is dominating in the ruck.
“In her second game she only lost two tap outs in the ruck. She gets stuck in and has taken amazingly well to the game.
“AFLW scouts need to come out and see Catherine playing, considering her talent after just 4 games and convince her to stay in Australia!”
A bright future for Catherine, and a bright season ahead for the Everton Wolves.