Aliesha Newman didn’t play a serious match of Aussie Rules until 12 months ago. Yep. That’s as remarkable as the round two goal of the season contender she drilled in just her sixth AFLW game.
A three-bounce running effort launched from a wing and capped with a deftly balanced kick that went precisely where she aimed was instantly compared to an iconic conversion of the modern game; a running goal booted by Lance Franklin at the MCG. The first Aboriginal woman to play for the Melbourne Football Club has made a mark not only in her team, but on the competition, at awe-inspiring speed.
Life for Newman wasn’t always pointing to this. She enjoyed AFL but only previously as a Western Bulldogs supporter and through the occasional kick of an oval ball at primary and secondary school. Newman’s mum Noraine said she was too short and small for Aussie Rules and protectively intervened over one invitation for her daughter to play when she was in grade six.
Encouraged to take an alternate path, Newman’s obvious athletic gifts were honed over 13 years of track and field competition instead. She represented Victoria multiple times in short and long distance running. Then she took her talents to soccer for seven years, which saw her join Calder United SC in the National Women’s Premier League. Newman had Olympic, not oval ball, dreams.
Facebook can be thanked for the sporting intervention: Newman spotted a link to a rookie trial day the Demons held before the inaugural AFLW season. She attended through curiosity and ended up being drafted, but only after missing the first cut and being picked subsequently as a free agent.
Having accelerated rapidly after four games in her debut season last year and a dedicated pre-season, Newman’s scorching pace and skill by foot have already made her a stand out in 2018. Demons coaches and teammates are marveling at her progress.
Newman’s mum – her great off field champion – admits in this story that the path to this fresh and highly promising sporting place hasn’t been as easy on the family. Melbourne, the AFLW and the fans are lucky they navigated a way. All the signs say that a highlight reel hinting at being more than exceptional has only just begun.
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