FROM local footy to All-Australian defender in 12 months, Eastern Ranges’ AFL Women’s Academy member Georgia Macpherson can hardly believe how fast the past 18 months have flown by since joining the TAC Cup Girls club for the 2017 season. Originally from the Northern Territory, Macpherson made the move to Melbourne and has become a revelation in defence with her intercept marking and rebounding among her strengths in some impressive performances at both club and representative level.
“I started Auskick when I lived in Darwin,” Macpherson said. “A group of my mates from school just said come down and have a go so I did that. “Then came down to Melbourne and then started playing for Chirnside Park – and again a group of my friends invited me down and ever since I’ve been there. “I’ve played there for about five years or so and then Eastern Ranges invited me to come try out for them so this is my second year with them. I’ve had heaps of opportunities throughout.”
For Macpherson, looking back on her journey, it is not too dissimilar to the meteoric rise of women’s football as a whole, going from playing at a local level with Chirnside Park to finding herself running out on Etihad Stadium for Victoria.
“Last year was super quick,” Macpherson said. “I was just playing at local (footy) for five years and then Eastern Ranges came around and after that (I was) straight into Vic Metro and after that I was straight into All-Australian at Etihad Stadium. “That was pretty full-on and then I thought the season was over, so I went back and played with my local club for a couple of games, and then got invited to AFLW Academy so then that was another big camp in December. “Then it followed on throughout this year and pre-season started again for Eastern Ranges, so there wasn’t really a big break that I’m used to at a local level. “Within the intensity it definitely wasn’t, so it was a lot of a bigger workload on the body and coming into this year I was more aware of how much work I was going to have to put into this season just in 2018 so I’m just like preparing myself throughout the year and knowing this is just the beginning so I have a long way to go still.”
The Eastern Ranges talent has certainly noticed the increased intensity in the competition, taking out the club best and fairest in 2016, and had another top three finish this year despite missing a game through concussion.
“I feel like it’s definitely gone up a lot,” she said. “The standard’s gone up, the professionalism has gone up, like not from only the players but the coaching staff. “As soon as pre-season came, the girls from last year noticed a difference and I feel like that’s good because obviously you want to improve and get better. “We weren’t the strongest competition out there last year and I feel like we definitely came out a lot stronger at the start of the season. “I definitely see where Eastern Ranges are trying to come from last year. “We definitely want to get faster, fitter, stronger from last year. “I feel like it was a bit harder than last year, pre-season.”
Macpherson praised the work of her coaches in the various AFL Victoria organisations, with both Eastern Ranges and Vic Metro monitoring the workload on the players to ensure they do not overdo it.
“I [went] from Eastern Ranges and I’m under them, so they take control of my workload and then I [went] to Vic Metro and they take care of my workload, so they will roster me on to train with them and … once they’re done, I’ll go to Box Hill and so on,” the AFLW Academy member said. “It’s pretty good, they are aware that there other workloads that you have, and other commitments you have and they take that into consideration and they create the timeline for you and the training schedule and that’s really helpful because otherwise us girls at our age, we’d just work ourselves to the bone and crack at the end of the season.”
The challenge is keeping everyone happy from her studies to her work, but she is determined to make the most of an opportunity to play at the highest level.
“Well I go to SEDA so I have it pretty good compared to most Year 12s but I do work part-time which is a bit of a struggle,” Macpherson said. “There’s training sessions that I’m going to [at] all these different clubs, they train at different times and different places so it’s been pretty hard keeping my boss happy because I keep changing shifts on them. “I mean, you’re dedicated to the sport so you’ve got to go and put it first.”
While Macpherson said her intercept marking and reading of the play is what she prided herself on, she acknowledged there were areas she wanted to focus on to improve.
“I definitely want to build on my fitness and my muscles and all of that,” she said. “But just my basic game knowledge and everything, just keep learning the game because it’s only going to get faster and harder so keeping up with all that and just trying to get the best out of all of that and be the best I can be.”
While the AFL Women’s draft is now only a few months away, Macpherson is focused on the National AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships on the Gold Coast in July, after a successful performance against Vic Country on the weekend.
“AFL would be crazy if I make that level,” she said. “It will be insane if I am good enough to make that level. “Just even making VFL I’m gobsmacked, and that I’m actually there and have the opportunity to play. “If I know I’m at the AFL level, I’ll definitely apply for it at the end of the year.”