A CHANCE referral from basketball teammates resulted in Sarah Kendall deciding to take up Aussie Rules and she has not looked back. The Eastern Ranges ruck has enjoyed the social aspect of playing in the TAC Cup Girls, as well as the physicality that comes with contact sport. Kendall said she first started when she was 15.
“From (basketball) all the girls started talking about football and how it’s coming along and they said we’re building a team so did you want to join along?” she said; “So I went along to that at East Ringwood when I was 15, and played there in the Lightning Premiership for the season which was a good start with a couple of friends and it built up from there, I went Knox after there for two years. “Then obviously to Eastern Ranges and to Chirnside now.”
Kendall said the experience from local leagues to the national stage had been unforgettable. Even trying out a new position in defence, where she has become more comfortable this year, was a highlight along the way.
“Just all the friends that come with it, all the life experiences you learn and ultimately the physicality as well,” she said. “It’s a new sport and I’ve always loved playing since I was little with my dad and stuff like that. It’s different, it’s unique, it’s good fun as well. “Last year I played for Vic Metro and they put me in the backline but I really enjoyed it, it was a good challenge. “It was different to being in the ruck but I learnt heaps of stuff and I’m open to new opportunities. “I do like it down there and I’m starting to find my spot which is good I reckon.”
Kendall prided herself on her leadership and direction to help the younger girls around the ground and be a target for her teammates to kick to.
“I think my strength is in the ruck at the moment because I feel like I know what is going on around the ground and I can use my knowledge to help direct the girls and tell them where to go,” she said. “Especially when we kick a point and its coming out, like telling them, especially the younger ones, like what to do.”
The Ranges utility admits her disposal by foot is an area she has worked on, but has tried to soak any information passed down to her from coaches or more experienced teammates.
“Well my kicking can improve a bit I reckon at the moment, it’s a little bit all over the place,” she said. “Working on my left foot and just getting more knowledge of the game. “I’m still young, I’m still an 18 year-old. “To get some knowledge passed down will be good, and to get some more experience would be great as well.”
Outside of football, Kendall enjoys a challenge as much as she does on the field. She said she has always thought about joining the armed forces and the experience within a football club, is not too dissimilar to that within a battalion.
“I’ve always been interested in the Army when I was younger,” she said. “I’ve always been interested in having a challenge and promoting women in the Army so much and to see all the ads and stuff. “It would be cool to go along and do something like that. “Now I’ve been part of the footy environment I hope to give me knowledge back to some of the younger kids, like doing the Under 15 program, just passing down the knowledge that I’ve learnt. “I’m not 100 per cent sure what I want to do yet.”
The Eastern Ranges finished the season with a 6-3 win-loss record, starting strongly, but a loss to the Western Jets saw them slip behind, before finishing with losses to eventual premiers Geelong Falcons, and the Calder Cannons in pouring rain. Nonetheless, Kendall said the 2018 season was beneficial for her.
“(It’s been) really good,” she said. “I’ve learnt lots and obviously built heaps of friendships and stuff like that. “My skills have improved, I’ve loved it, it’s been great. “It’s helped me as a person, not just as a footy player, but just in life in general, heaps of lessons.”
Kendall’s dream is like that of so many others in the TAC Cup Girls – finding her way onto an AFL Women’s list. But for now, her focus is on her Vic Metro duties on the Gold Coast, where she will likely share the ruck load with Carla Rendelmann as she did in Metro’s win against Vic Country at GMHBA Stadium in Round 1 of the AFL Women’s Under 18 Championships.
“Yeah I’m looking forward to that, because last year was my first time playing Metro for me which was good,” she said. “This year I have a couple of my friends coming along and Tommy’s (Humphrey, Eastern Ranges coach) coming along (so) just to meet them and I know a lot of people from last year as well, it’s a similar team. “I think we’ll have better connections and I’m looking forward to it and what it’s going to bring.”
Kendall is a part of a strong Eastern Ranges contingent in the Vic Metro squad with co-captains Emerson Woods and Charlotte Wilson, midfielder Mikala Cann, exciting forward Gabriella De Angelis and defender Lauren Szigeti among those who made the final squad and were a part of Metro’s victory over Vic Country.