ISABEL Dawes is in just her second year of state representative football.
But the 17 year-old is already being viewed as one of the leaders in the side, and she is thriving in this role.
“Because I’m an older girl, I’m just watching the girls come through,” Dawes said. “It’s good being part of it and just leading it.”
When she first got selected to play for Queensland last year, Dawes admits she was a bit apprehensive. She realised that she suddenly had to match up her skills with the best footballers in the country. But this year, she has developed a new level of confidence and has used it to be a role model for her teammates.
“In my first year, I was a bit nervous and a bit standoffish,” she said. “I was kind of the one being told what to do whereas now I’m leading. “It’s a good difference.”
Dawes said she enjoyed making the transition from a shy young footballer to a wonderful on-field leader, as it has helped her further her expertise in the game.
“I like it (being a leader) just because that’s what’s been happening at the club and stuff,” she said. “I think it’s a new role for me and I’m just learning more things and being a part of leadership.”
The 17 year-old provided great leadership in her side’s first ever win over Vic Metro during the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships. Dawes booted two goals on the day and was lively around the ground with her fierce tackling. She attributes the historic win to the camaraderie that the Queensland team has been able to establish.
“Coming up with a win after the big smashing [Queensland had lost to Vic Country by 56 points in the first match of the Gold Coast tournament], the girls were upbeat and everything else,” Dawes said. “We just wanted to come out and just redeem ourselves. “It was good getting around each other.”
Dawes says that one of the reasons that the Queensland players are a tight-knit group is because of the growing state of Aussie Rules in the region. The players all share a passion for the game and support each other in achieving their goals, which is something Dawes has enjoyed in her representative journey.
“It’s (Aussie Rules) just up and coming and it’s just one group of girls, so we get to just build each other every year,” the 17 year-old said. “We all know each other and have the same coach. “I think it’s a bit more of a family and I like that experience.”
One of Dawes’ main goals is to make the AFL Women’s Academy again after having been a member of the it this year. Although she admits it was challenging, Dawes says she would love to be a part of the Academy again in 2019.
“That was just a massive step up,” she said. “I could not believe all of the girls and their talent. “It was just awesome.”
Although she is not eligible for this year’s AFL Women’s Draft, Dawes still has the goal of being drafted front and centre in her mind, as she strives to pull on an AFLW jumper in 2020. While she admits she would be grateful to go to any team, her heart is with Queensland because that’s where her footy career really took off.
“AFLW’s definitely one of the goals,” Dawes said. “I want to get drafted to Brisbane hopefully with Craig (Starcevich) but in my draft year, there’s Gold Coast and Brisbane. “I just want to make it and impact it.”