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AFLW: A week in the life of ...

We connect up with our Darwin teammates via Skype, wave at each other constantly and argue about who is hanging up first!
Talia Radan

Step into the hectic world of an AFLW player where a professional training schedule is combined with full-time work.

Crows Talia Radan and Sally Riley take us through a whirlwind week, from the Club’s come-from-behind victory over Carlton in Round Three to the aftermath of Sunday’s win in the west against Fremantle.

Radan, 28, is a Federal Government Advisor in Adelaide, while joint vice-captain Riley, 26, is a Physical Education Teacher in the Northern Territory.

“Our lives are football, even though we have full-time jobs,” – Talia Radan

“At the end of the day though, we wouldn’t have it any other way.” – Sally Riley


Monday 20 February

RADAN – Luckily, I booked an annual leave day! I wake up bruised and mentally drained. Brunch with teammates, which includes holding Kellie Gibson’s crutches! Weights and then our main recovery session at 6pm.

RILEY – I wake up as a teacher. Wish it was Sunday again! We landed late last night, so Mondays are tough when I’m sore and lethargic. I wake to a 6:30am alarm, do a radio interview at 7:30am and then switch into teacher mode. I take a Year 10 AFL class, so the first half hour is footy talk. They watch the replay of my goal (you better appreciate it guys, it probably won't happen again!). Recovery after work.

Talia Radan during the bruising encounter with Carlton


Tuesday 21 February

RADAN – Work 8:30am – 5pm. Leave work early to go to skills training. We have our Carlton game review at 7pm, where we watch footage as a team. We connect up with our Darwin teammates via Skype, wave at each other constantly and argue about who is hanging up first!

 RILEY – (Joint vice-captain) Ange Foley and I hook into the weekly leadership phone-meeting after work, with the co-captains (Chelsea Randall and Erin Phillips in Adelaide) and coaches at the Michael Long Learning & Leadership Centre, our home at TIO Stadium. Then we do a half-hour individual video review, wellbeing session, team Skype, training, weights and ice baths. I leave at about 9pm.


Wednesday 22 February

RADAN – Often, I’m up at 4:30am to fly to Canberra to work at Parliament House. Today I’m working in Adelaide, then helping at a North Adelaide Roosters girls’ football clinic. Home for an evening of My Kitchen Rules – my TV allowance of the week! I often have a mid-week remedial massage… not enough hours in the day today.

RILEY – School day then staff meeting until 5:30pm. Night off from training! Chat to my parents back in Victoria, catch the sunset and have dinner with my housemates – this is very rare! I usually eat after training when they’re in bed.

Sally Riley (far right) has additional duties as part of her role in the leadership group


Thursday 23 February

RADAN – Work until 5pm and then straight to our main training session. There isn't much time to breathe! Thursday is our long, demanding session of the week, but it's our last chance to get things right before the weekend. Dinner at 10pm.

RILEY – School and a parent meeting, then massage and taping (ankles, previous netball injuries) before main training. It was a scorcher. Tough session where we all felt the heat – 35 degrees and 86% humidity!

Talia Radan sweats it out at training


Friday 24 February

RADAN – During the day as an adviser, I work ‘in-between’ the technical specialists and the Government. Off to the club to do weights. Quiet night watching our boys play Richmond, packing for tomorrow’s trip.

RILEY – Fridays are community days, so my class go to Darwin primary schools to run sport clinics. Exhausting being on my feet all day outside in the heat! I do some washing, packing, and get to go out for dinner with friends.


Saturday 25 February

RADAN – Morning walk on the beach. Airport 12:30pm. Light session when we land in Perth to get the legs moving. Team dinner when the Darwin girls arrive, then a meeting to go through match-ups. I’m rooming with Erin Phillips – we usually have good life chats and discussions about world politics!

RILEY – First sleep-in in weeks! Light session before the four-hour flight. Weird feeling watching our old teammates play in the NTFL local women’s league finals. Airport 4pm. I’ve developed a good flying routine – work for two hours, then a movie, music or sleeping. Hydrate and stretch up and down the aisle.


The team in Perth on the morning of Sunday's game at Fremantle Oval


Sunday 26 February

RADAN – We have a very structured game-day timetable. Team breakfast, massage, free time, team lunch and then off to the ground. Freo brought their A-game! Very pleased to get the job done. Back on the bus, team dinner, swim in the freezing hotel pool at 9pm!

RILEY – I figure if I sleep in longer, there’s less of the day to get nervous! Team walk on the esplanade. We get to the ground at least two hours before, and hand our phones in. Glad we got away with another win! Felt closer than 23 points. We reminisce about the game in the ice bath, then onto next week.


Monday 27 February

RADAN – 5:30am breakfast, so we’re all tired today. Flight 8:30am-2pm. I do my own recovery at the beach. Really short turnaround this week, so it’s straight onto Brisbane. Hopefully, people come along in droves on Saturday!

RILEY – Flight 8:30am-1:30pm. Straight to recovery (I’d like to add up how much time I’ve spent in ice baths!) Absolutely stuffed, I’ll probably be in bed by 8pm. We’ve only got three days, then we fly to Adelaide Friday morning. I’m excited to see what Norwood Oval is like!

Saturday’s top of the table clash with the Brisbane Lions at Norwood Oval starts at 6:40pm. Entry is free.

Sally Riley celebrates with fans after the Club's last home game against Carlton

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