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AFLW: From hoops to goalposts for Jones

Kirralee Thomas  November 29, 2017 3:35 PM

AFLW Draftee: Eloise Jones See the highlights of our third pick in the 2017 AFLW Draft
If I didn’t get drafted, everything would have gone down the drain very quickly and I was pretty worried.

Football has always been a major part of Eloise Jones and her family’s lives.

Jones started playing when she was three, always loved it and was good at it too, already making All Australian twice in her short career.

However, the 18-year-old was almost lost to footy.

With no elite-level competition to aspire to, she gave the game away in 2013.

“At that stage women’s footy wasn’t going anywhere, it was just club level, not well known and people looked down on women’s footy,” Jones said.

Jones wasn’t keen on going to university.

“Academically I’m not the greatest so I was never going to study,” she said.

“My parents realised at a young age that sport was the way to go for me.”

And so, she started focusing on basketball, knowing that there was a future for her in the sport and opportunities to go play in America and make a career out of it.

It wasn’t until plans for the AFL Women’s competition were announced that Jones’s path wavered.

“Seeing how successful the AFLW was I was like, ‘okay this is actually a career path, this is something I can do’,” she said.

“I didn’t realise how much I had missed footy until I started playing it again, I really enjoyed being back out there.”

When Jones was offered a US college basketball scholarship, she started to doubt whether it was right for her.

“I thought, is basketball really what I want to do? I found myself second guessing a lot of the time,” she said.

“I found I was almost trying to find excuses to stay here a bit longer, to keep playing footy and that was when I finally realised.

“I sat down with mum and dad and said, ‘I think footy is what I want to do, I don’t really have as much interest in basketball as I do in footy’.

“They were very happy with that, as I could stay here with the family.”

However, with the decision came massive risk.

Jones turned down her scholarship before she was drafted, and didn’t have a plan B.

“If I didn’t get drafted, everything would have gone down the drain very quickly and I was pretty worried,” she said.

“I wouldn’t have known what to do with myself if I didn’t get drafted.”

It wasn’t until the Crows took her at pick No.24 in the 2017 NAB AFL Women’s Draft that her decision was justified.

“Watching as my name was called to Adelaide during the draft, I was flooded with relief and happiness that I made the right decision and this is definitely the way I should have gone,” she said.

“I’m pretty thankful that I did pick footy over basketball.”

The first week of training has furthered that statement for Jones.

While it was “bloody hard work”, she enjoyed learning about the professional football environment and getting out on the track.

“I already learned heaps and it’s only week one. At the moment I am just soaking in every single word, good or bad,” she laughed.

Being treated as a professional athlete is going to take some adjusting for Jones.

“We get rub downs and tape, sometimes it’s overwhelming. I’m like ‘oh my god I should be doing that myself, I can get the water!’ I feel like I have to do something to help,” she said.

“Here we are treated like professional athletes, we get whatever we need no questions asked and having that is really amazing.”

It is a great end to what has been an amazing year for Jones, who made the Under-18 All Australian team, was MVP for the Allies at the Under-18 National Championships and represented Glenelg in the inaugural SANFL women’s competition.

Getting drafted was the icing on the cake.

“Thinking about all the opportunities I’ve been given, I’m just amazed at the year I’ve had and hopefully it continues at the Crows.”