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AFLW: Resilient Rajcic

The thing that just kept bringing me back was that I get so much happiness out of playing and being in an elite environment
Marijana Rajcic

When Marijana Rajcic was drafted to the Crows with pick 32 in the 2017 NAB AFLW Draft, she already had an idea of what it would take to make it in the AFLW competition, having previously played elite level soccer for years.

Rajcic started playing soccer in year 7 at Loreto, when her teacher suggested she try out for the under 12’s South Australian Primary School Sports Association (SAPSASA) team, which she got in to.

She went through the state ranks from there, and ended up playing with Adelaide United in the W-League for six seasons, including captaining the team in 2015.

While she achieved a lot in soccer, she went through a lot too, suffering three anterior cruciate ligament injuries during her career. 

Going through the lengthy rehabilitation process three times made Rajcic question whether she should give up sport, but she always did the hard work and pushed through.

“Sport is my life,” 28-year-old Rajcic said. 

“I love sport, if I can’t play sport, I’m not happy.

“If I didn’t do my rehab right, I wouldn’t have been able to play with my nieces and nephews in the backyard, or with my cousins and friends.

“The thing that just kept bringing me back was that I get so much happiness out of playing and being in an elite environment.”

Sport has always been a big pastime for the Rajcic family.

Growing up in Windsor Gardens, Rajcic was always outside with her Dad and three older brothers.

“I was always running after them and watching what they were doing. Basketball, tennis, soccer, any ball that they were playing with outside, I used to just pick up and join in,” she said.

The love of sport translated in her soccer career, where she was playing with both men and women, and at times playing two games a week.

Getting the captaincy of Adelaide United was a highlight of her career. 

“It’s probably one of my proudest moments in soccer,” Rajcic said.

A physical education teacher by trade, Rajcic met her best friend Nadia in that very first SAPSASA soccer tournament she played, and it was her that gave her the idea of trying out AFL. 


“She said to me one day, why don’t you go for it? I said nah, I don’t know anyone in the football world and I had never played before, I had kicks and played marks up but I’d never played a game in my life,” Rajcic said.

“Nadia knew how much I loved soccer and she never thought I’d actually make the switch.”

In the end Rajcic relented, and Nadia’s husband organised for her to attend a testing day at the Crows through contacts he had at the Club. 

After testing, Adelaide coach Bec Goddard said they wanted to see her play a game, but she didn’t play for long.

“I played for 15 minutes, and Bec said, I’ve seen enough, you don’t have to play anymore, we’d love to have you,” Rajcic said.

The next day however, Rajcic got offered another W-League contract, and let Goddard know she was committing to soccer.

“She said, that’s fine, the door is always open if you want to come and train with us.”

Rajcic played one more season of soccer, but towards the end of it she began to feel like she needed a new challenge and a refreshing environment.

“I rang Bec back up and asked, ‘is that offer still there?’”

Goddard offered her an opportunity to train as a top up player for the competition’s inaugural pre-season, which she took. 

It is almost exactly a year since she had not only her first training session with the Crows, but her first football training ever.

She trained with Adelaide for two weeks before Goddard sent her to play for Norwood in the SANFL, where she was best on ground on debut and went on to win the premiership in the inaugural season. 

The adjustment to football has been relatively easy for Rajcic given the skills she learnt at soccer.

“I already have an understanding of what’s required – professionalism, resilience and mental strength. You need to be dedicated, committed, and do the right things for the team,” she said.

So far, she has loved every minute of her new career.

“It’s still a bit of a surreal feeling, you look around here and you have to pinch yourself, the girls are amazing, we are a family, it’s unreal,” Rajcic said.

“I just want to do my part for the team and do the best I can so we can achieve success again.”