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AFLW: Perko prepares with Base Camp trek

Perko's Everest Expedition Crows AFLW star Sarah Perkins takes us on her journey to Mount Everest base camp in the off-season.
I’ve come back with a greater realisation of what I’ve got and what I’ve grown up with and I’m really lucky to have received the opportunities that I’ve been given, we all are, especially as in Nepal they really do struggle.
Sarah Perkins

It has been a one-of-a-kind off-season in 2017 for Sarah Perkins, with the Crows AFLW forward travelling overseas for the first time, trekking to Base Camp Everest in Nepal and raising money for charity.

In October, a group of 12 did the eight-day trek to Base Camp to raise money for the Crows Children’s Foundation and to help a charity in Nepal rebuild a school affected by a devastating earthquake in 2015.

Perkins was recovering from minor off-season foot surgery when she was asked if she’d be interested in the trek.

At first, she was unsure if it was a good idea with her foot, but there was one simple aspect that convinced her to go.

“The fact we were going to be raising money for the Crows Children’s Foundation here in South Australia, but also for Nepal, that really stood out to me to do my bit for charity,” Perkins said.

“It was an amazing opportunity I couldn’t really say no to.”

The group landed in Nepal’s capital Kathmandu and had a day to explore, before catching a tiny, twin engine plane to Lukla to start the 160km trek.

Eight-days later they arrived at Base Camp, only to spend half-an-hour there before turning around and starting the three-day trek back down.

Those three days were the hardest.

“You’ve already walked past everything, so you know where you are and you know how far you have to go,” Perkins said with a laugh.

Mentally, the trek was a challenge for Perkins.

“You have to get up and do the same thing every day at pretty much the same time and you eat the same food every day, there were plenty of carbs along the trek,” she said.

“You get used to it and keep plodding along, and with the group it was a real team environment, you help each other along when you’re struggling and keep getting around the group.”

“That’s something I’m definitely going to take into my pre-season, try to be a bit more of a leader in that aspect and try keep the group up and about.”

Although the trek wasn’t about football, Perkins still took the chance to do some learning while she was there.

Crows defender Kyle Hartigan was one of the group members.

Perkins enjoyed the opportunity to sit down with him outside of football and hear about his experiences.

“Kyle’s been in the system for six years now, so for me it was a chance to tap into the knowledge of someone on the men’s team,” Perkins said.

“I got to see what his off season would look like and what was expected to do when he got back, and it wasn’t really any different to what is expected of us.

“He is an amazing bloke and someone I really got along with on the trip.”

After the euphoria of finishing the trek, Perkins had one more highlight in store.

On the second-last day, they headed out to a remote community eight hours from Kathmandu, to visit a school that hadn’t yet been rebuilt from the earthquake.

“We took some goodies from the Crows shop, and were lucky enough to kick the footy with about five kids,” Perkins said.

“They’d never seen a footy before and they didn’t know what to do with it, they were trying to use it like a volleyball and were really confused.

“Once we showed them what to do with it and how to catch, the smiles on their faces is something that will stick with me forever.”

It gave Perkins a great appreciation for the life she lives in Australia.

“There weren’t too many kids at the school as it’s a place where schooling isn’t really valued as much as we value it here in Australia,” Perkins said.

“Seeing the condition of their school and how far they have to come to build up that area was pretty eye opening.

“I’ve come back with a greater realisation of what I’ve got and what I’ve grown up with and I’m really lucky to have received the opportunities that I’ve been given, we all are, especially as in Nepal they really do struggle.”

The views in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the AFL or its clubs