Women of AFL – Sarah-Jane Brennan

Sarah-Jane Brennan
HPE Teacher and Coach of Rockhampton Grammar School’s first AFL team

What does your role involve?
Trying to challenge my girls (and the wider community) to be open minded to this new and exciting sport. To develop the participation in the region, which in turn with create a pathway for younger girls and a competitive competition for women

How long have you been involved in AFL
? For a couple of years now

How did you first become involved in AFL?
My family is AFL crazy, so when everyone would head to training and leave me wondering what the appeal was it didn’t take me long to go and investigate. I found myself playing my first football for Logan Cobras in 2006.

What is the greatest challenge you have faced in your role?
Getting the girls to commit to training and the first game, from there it incredibly becomes much easier. Once you get a taste of girls footy you are hooked. 

What has been your greatest achievement/s
? It is hard to begin with football, everything is an achievement. Playing in a Grand Final my first playing year. Learning how to run and kick at the same time (this is hard for a former netball player). Stepping up and taking on the challenge of coaching (when in an assistant and a manger role) which really stretched my knowledge of the game to new lengths. Watching my girls play the game I love with the same passion and enthusiasm as me.

What’s the best thing about playing football?
Your team mates teach you that this is a different sport to what you have played before. They prepare you the best they can to the challenges you will face on the field. Then all they can do is let you experience it yourself. You have your first hard hit which lands you on your ass and knocks the wind from you. Then you get up, a little dazed and confused and you PLAY.  You are looked after and in return you have their back. It is really the perfect cycle, and these girls are friends for life. That is why I love the sport and the reason coaching is so rewarding. You get to experience that all over again with your girls.

What is the hardest part about coaching girls football? Girls/women’s football is a different creature. Our players range from first timers to girls that have played their football with the boys and everything in between. Girls are able to transfer skills from different sports, however varied they might be. Getting the girls to commit to training and the first game was hard, from there it incredibly becomes much easier. Once they get a taste of girls footy they’re are hooked. 

What’s the most exciting thing about being involved in female football?
Being a part of a developing women’s sport, at the grassroots level and watching it grow.

What do you hope to achieve in football?
My sister is THE Katie Brennan All-Australian Footballer. I am a few years behind her but she assures me that if I train hard and play even harder then I may just get there. My body on the other hand may have a different idea. Apart from my ambition as a player I would really enjoy to taking up a development role within an international community. One of my lifelong goals is using sport as a vehicle to create social change and develop understanding of others. 

Who inspires you and why?
I am lucky to be surrounded with inspiration that is one of the perks of being a teacher.

What advice would you give to other women hoping to work (or working) in AFL?
Work hard play harder…..you have chosen a challenging pathway but ‘keep your head over the footy, 1%er are so important, always back up your team mates, stick to your decisions cause it will give you more time for execution and keep your eyes on the prize”. Footy can be applied to most situations ha ha.  

Why do you think it is important to have women in football?
To prove the game is that great, able to be played in a professional capacity by both male and female. 

What do you see in the future for women in football?
An enormous participation rate in our grassroots football, providing the direct pathway we need all the way through to our women’s league.  Which in turn will adequately prepare it’s players for a similar professional competition to our male counterpart.

What is the most important attribute in a leader?
A passion and belief in what you are teaching, using that as a foundation to build on. Always looking upwards, not in a literal sense but aiming high and striving for what you want. Willing to be at the front of the pack leading the way, role modelling your expectations and attitudes.

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