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AFLW: Walling's football pathway

Kirralee Thomas  January 25, 2018 4:49 PM

WallingRunWeb.jpg

Walling running hard during the Crows 2018 Pre-Season

I thought my football career was over and all of a sudden there’s just this huge pathway I’ve found myself in and I’ve been lucky enough to travel through.

When Brianna Walling was in year three, she was playing a game of netball whilst her brother was playing football across the road.

Instead of focusing on her game, she spent more time watching her brother's football match than she did playing netball.

“I think that’s when I first realised my love of football was there,” Walling said.

Walling wanted to compete with her brother.

“We are very competitive, we clash heads all the time,” she said.

“I definitely wanted to be better than him, so when he was playing football, I wanted to play football and I wanted to get better than him.”

From that moment, Walling didn’t worry about playing netball, joining the boy’s teams in the Southern Football League at age nine. 

She even made history there, becoming the first female to play in a SFL grand final when she was 14.

However, Walling didn’t think that was going to last very long.

“After playing all of my football with the boys, I got to my last year of playing with them and I was like, this is my last year of football,” she said. 

“I didn’t even know female football existed after playing with the boys for so long, but then I realised there’s actually this AFLW proper competition coming in and that was just mind blowing.

“I thought my football career was over and all of a sudden there’s just this huge pathway I’ve found myself in and I’ve been lucky enough to travel through.”

Walling joined Morphettville Park alongside many of her future Crows teammates and went through the ranks, playing representative state football and for Glenelg in the SANFL.

She really enjoyed the step up in professionalism and quality.

“I learnt a lot about myself, personally, and the style of football and how other girls play football, it was very eye-opening,” Walling said.

“At Glenelg, the trainings were more intense. There was higher quality and you had to be at every single training, if you didn’t train you didn’t play.

“That professionalism really pushed me and increased my ability.”

When Walling was recruited to the Crows with pick No.15 in the 2017 AFLW Rookie Draft, it was the last step of that pathway.

Her time with Morphettville Park was beneficial when she arrived at the Club.

“It’s obviously very scary, it’s like starting a new job,” she said.

“You have to make friends but it was very comforting knowing that I would get here and people would already know me and how I play, it made it a lot easier.” 

She’s already felt a big impact from her short time at the Club.

“I can already feel myself learning and my ability getting better and just ever increasing,” Walling said. 

“At the moment, it’s just about learning as much as I can, and hopefully getting a place in the team and just increasing my ability as much as I can.”