After a slow start we’re really starting to show our true potential, with two wins from our last three games.
We beat Collingwood in our last outing, which is always special. The rivalry is getting more intense and chatting to our fans, we’re always reminded of the history between the two clubs.
Next up, we’ve got a huge game at home against Brisbane. We’re level on points in our conference and a win at home on Sunday will put us in the box seat to reach the finals. A loss and we’ll have to hope that the Lions slip up in the final round.
This weekend, we will don orange socks as part of Carlton Respects, a community program run by our club to bring awareness and education to increase gender equality for the prevention of violence against women.
We’ve got some real talent on our squad list and we believe in each other. We’re determined to make the most of this opportunity and show our fans that anything is possible for us this season.
WHY I WANT TO STAY AT CARLTON
I also have a personal point to prove at Carlton and in the AFLW overall. Being out with a serious injury gives you time to reassess your goals and set a more definite course.
I’d never torn my ACL before but, when I felt my knee buckle underneath me during our game against GWS last season, I knew straightaway that’s what I’d done.
A couple of days later, scans confirmed the worst.
The next 12 months would have been unbearable without the support of my partner, Tilly Lucas-Rodd, as well as my family, friends and the club.
Tilly plays at Carlton with me and was a pillar of support. Whether we were at the club or at home, she kept me sane.
I remember being bedridden after my operation, wondering how I could ever get back to playing in the AFLW. It seemed so far away, watching the girls run out on television.
It felt like the reconstruction of my knee had changed the composition of my whole body.
When I returned to the club to begin my rehab, I quickly realised that sitting on the sidelines for a year was going to present some big challenges. When you’re doing so much work in isolation, cut off from the rest of the team, it’s easy to let the situation get on top of you.
As the days drag on and you’re stuck doing the same exercises, you begin doubting whether you’ll ever get back to how you were. You don’t feel like you’re making any progress. It feels like you’re going backwards.
If I’d had to do it on my own, I wouldn’t have got very far at all. But the club was there for me every step of the way, especially our Head of Health and Wellbeing, Riley Bodger.
There were also a couple of girls at the club who had come back from knee reconstructions previously. Katie Loynes was one person I spoke to and she gave me some great advice.
Katie explained to me that recovery from such an injury is not as I’d expected. I’d fallen into the trap of comparing my recovery to other players who were going through the same thing, like Mel Hickey at Geelong and Izzy Huntington at the Western Bulldogs.
I’d assumed that treatment for these kinds of injuries was a process. You start at point A and if you did all the right things, you’d be back in a certain number of months. But Katie set me straight.
She made me realise that It’s not about how fast or slow your recovery is, it’s about going at your own pace because the most important thing is that you get back out on the field one day. If you try to cut corners, it’s only going to backfire.
Eventually, it all came together for me. At the nine-month mark I was pretty much back to normal and raring to go.
I don’t even think about my knee anymore. It’s almost as if it never happened.
The best part of all is that I’m back wearing the navy blue guernsey of Carlton. You have no idea what that means to me.
When Carlton came knocking at my door offering a marquee spot, my heart was screaming at me to accept it. I couldn’t ignore that feeling deep down.
In the off-season there were reports going around that I was going to leave the club. The thought never crossed my mind.
When new teams are coming into a competition, there is always going to be player movement. There’s always going to be clubs knocking on the doors of managers, asking about players they’re interested in.
That’s what happened to me. But I never had the intention of leaving.
This club is super-invested in women’s football and I wanted to help them turn things around. I decided to stay loyal to Carlton and I hope to be here for a very long time.
WHAT I MISS MOST ABOUT SOCCER
I have no regrets about making that big decision to play AFLW instead of soccer. But, if there’s one thing I really do miss, it’s the friends I made over the years.
I started playing when I was 12 and a few of the girls I played with back then ended up being my teammates all the way through to the Matildas.
For years, we spent more time with each other than with our own families. We became like a little family of our own, supporting each other when we were away from home.
One of the girls I was closest to is Steph Catley, who has just been named vice captain of the Matildas. From club football, to the junior Matildas and eventually the senior national team - we were together through it all.
I was a goalkeeper and she was a centre back, so we had a lot to do with each other on the field. In soccer, that means I was constantly shouting at her in every game. I think that dynamic only brought us closer together.
Perhaps the biggest highlight of our time playing together was when we travelled to LA with the Matildas in 2012 to play against the US women’s national team, back when they were the best in the world.
There must have been 20,000 fans there for that game. We were two young girls, in awe of lining up against our heroes like Hope Solo, Abbey Wambach and Megan Rapinoe.
We lost the game 2-1 but it was one of the most incredible moments of my soccer career. Sharing it with Steph is what made it even more special.
When I told her that I was going to leave the sport she had a lot of questions for me, as any best friend wanting the best for you would. She initially seemed a bit sceptical, but completely respected my decision to leave.
She knew that Aussie Rules was in my heart and it was a change I had to make.
The hardest part was knowing I wouldn’t get to see my best friend as much anymore. We’ve taken different paths but today we’re just as close as ever before, regardless of anything.
I can’t wait to see the girls run out to play at the World Cup in France this year.
If I’m honest, I’ll be watching on with some mixed emotions, not being a part of it. But I’m at peace with the decision I made.
They’ve developed into one of the best teams in the world and I think they can go a long way at the tournament. They’ve got the quality and heart to win it.
I think that would be great for all female athletes. Our sports are in competition, but I think we should celebrate each other’s successes.
The better each code is going, the better it is for women’s sport as a whole.